Changing Gears is a public media project about the future of the industrial Midwest. Each week, reporters Dan Bobkoff in Cleveland, Niala Boodhoo in Chicago and Kate Davidson in Ann Arbor cover issues of interest to the Great Lakes region. Changing Gears also sponsors public events and conversations.
Mitt Romney’s narrow victory Tuesday night over Rick Santorum in the Michigan Republican primary now sets the stage for a repeat in the Buckeye State. And already, the situation is mirroring the one in Michigan.
A Quinnipiac University survey, published Monday, finds Santorum with a 7 percent lead over Romney in Ohio, the same lead he held two weeks ago. The Ohio Poll, by the University of Cincinnati, shows Santorum with an 11 percent lead.
Santorum led Romney by as much as 20 percent coming into the Michigan primary, too.
Although the political spotlight is on Michigan’s Feb. 28 primary right now, there’s another good political story bubbling in the Great Lakes states.
Richard Lugar, who turns 80 in April, has been one of Indiana’s U.S. senators as long as a lot of people have been alive. He was first elected to the Senate in 1977, and he’s served as chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee twice. Before he was elected to the Senate, he was mayor of Indianapolis.
But Lugar, a Republican, may face a stiff challenge from within his own party. The Chicago Tribune reports that the Club for Growth, an influential conservative group, is endorsing Lugar’s primary opponent, Indiana State Treasurer Richard Mourdock.
The Club’s president, Chris Chocola, questioned some of the votes that Lugar has taken on fiscal issues in Washington.
Lugar voted in favor of a Congressional bailout for Detroit automakers, and more recently, the Indiana senator opposed a ban on earmarks that was pushed for by Republicans in the Senate.
Lugar’s internal polling shows him well ahead in the Indiana race, according to the Tribune. But if he were to face a tough challenge, or even lose the Senate race, it could be a blow to President Barack Obama. He has cited Lugar as one of his good friends when he was in the Senate, even though the pair are from different parties.