Sen. John Kerry (D-Mass.) called the loss of his Foreign Relations Committee colleague, Sen. Richard Lugar (R-Ind.), in tonight’s primary “a tragedy for the Senate” and a blow to bipartisanship.
Chairman Kerry issued a long statement lauding the 80-year-old, six-term ranking member on his committee.
“It’s a blow to the institution during a period when the institution itself has been strained,” Kerry said. “…He’s a class act and a gentleman and in a Senate that has seen so much change and transition these last years, his expertise on complicated issues honed over 36 years simply can’t be replicated.”
He called the Nunn-Lugar effort to reduce nuclear stockpiles “almost shorthand for bi-partisanship,” calling the Indiana senator “a dignified, thoughtful and capable public servant.”
“It will soon almost sound cliched to say that America is safer today because of Dick Lugar’s 36 years of service in the Senate, but it really does bear repeating,” Kerry continued. “His record on our Committee will long be remembered in the same context as another chairman, William Fulbright of Arkansas, whose Senate service also ended in a difficult primary defeat, but who is remembered today not for one loss, but for a legacy of following the facts and speaking the truth despite the political risks.
“This is a tough period in American politics, but I’d like to think that we’ll again see a United States Senate where Dick Lugar’s brand of thoughtful, mature, and bi-partisan work is respected and rewarded,” he added. “That kind of seriousness of purpose should never go out of fashion.”
President Obama, “as a friend and former colleague,” also issued a statement of “deep appreciation” for Lugar.
“While Dick and I didn’t always agree on everything, I found during my time in the Senate that he was often willing to reach across the aisle and get things done,” Obama said. “…Senator Lugar comes from a tradition of strong, bipartisan leadership on national security that helped us prevail in the Cold War and sustain American leadership ever since. He has served his constituents and his country well.”