Is Lugar's Loss an 'Alarm Bell' for the Death of Bipartisanship?

"Mourdock is virtually defenseless after spending everything he had to win the primary election," DeMint wrote. "The Democrats are going to come at him very hard in the next few weeks and work to brand him as an extremist. We need to act quickly to replenish Mourdock's war chest so he can get the truth out about his record and vision for the future of this country."

Mourdock has said he wants to model himself after DeMint and Sen. Mike Lee (R-Utah), the Tea Party Caucus member who replaced another senator deemed to not be conservative enough, Bob Bennett.

"We can't depend on the Washington establishment to fight for him," DeMint continued. "Given a choice between supporting a moderate candidate in one state and a conservative candidate like Mourdock in another, the establishment will put its money behind the moderate. They know liberal Republicans won't stop business as usual in Washington and don't have the courage to stand up to the leaders in their own party."

In Mourdock's quest to “move the Senate to a more conservative place," that might mean not even supporting Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.).

"What I've said is, if we get a few more conservatives in the United States Senate, we can certainly change the leadership, but not necessarily the people," Mourdock said on MSNBC today. "I've never made any statement, in fact I've never had the occasion to talk to Mr. McConnell. We've not made any decision there whatsoever."

"I recognize that this is one of those times where there is great polarization between the two parties, and frankly the ideas for which the parties are working are really at opposite ends of the spectrum — I don't think there's going to be a lot of successful compromise," Mourdock said on CNN, adding bipartisanship should be Democrats coming back toward the right.

Lugar, in conceding the race to Mourdock last night, said he wants to see "my friend Mitch McConnell have a Republican majority in the Senate. I hope my opponent prevails in November to contribute to that Republican majority."

In a statement issued before his concession speech, Lugar said he knew that he "was a likely target of Club for Growth, FreedomWorks and other Super Pacs dedicated to defeating at least one Republican as a purification exercise to enhance their influence over other Republican legislators."

"From time to time during the last two years I heard from well-meaning individuals who suggested that I ought to consider running as an independent. My response was always the same: I am a Republican now and always have been," he added. "I have no desire to run as anything else. All my life, I have believed in the Republican principles of small government, low taxes, a strong national defense, free enterprise, and trade expansion."

Lugar urged Mourdock, if elected, "to revise his stated goal of bringing more partisanship to Washington."

"What he has promised in this campaign is reflexive votes for a rejectionist orthodoxy and rigid opposition to the actions and proposals of the other party," Lugar said. "…He has pledged his support to groups whose prime mission is to cleanse the Republican party of those who stray from orthodoxy as they see it."

But the senator added that the increasing number of lawmakers "who have adopted an unrelenting partisan viewpoint" applies to both parties.

"Partisans at both ends of the political spectrum are dominating the political debate in our country," he said. "And partisan groups, including outside groups that spent millions against me in this race, are determined to see that this continues."

"Bipartisanship is not the opposite of principle," Lugar added. "One can be very conservative or very liberal and still have a bipartisan mindset."

Longtime Democratic lawmakers generally agreed that they'd miss the way that the longtime Republican lawmaker did business on the Hill: genteel and non-confrontational are adjectives they've used to describe Lugar.

But before the Senate turned back to squabbling about student-loan interest rates today, Durbin did deliver a bipartisan gesture not even seen in President Obama's State of the Union speech -- an address delivered shortly after the man who filled Obama's Senate seat was felled by a stroke, but who was absent from Obama's words.

Durbin said on the Senate floor that when a doctor first publicly issued a grim prognosis for his Illinois colleague, "I was upset because I thought, 'He doesn't know Mark Kirk.' He will be back. …I'm sure it will be soon."

Kirk singled out Durbin and a handful of other lawmakers among his "congressional family" that have supported him in a Chicago Tribune column today about his stroke.

Durbin, who spoke to Kirk this week, said he's looking forward to getting back to weekly joint town hall meetings with the Republican senator. "People just love it when we disagree because we do it without getting angry at each other," he said.

"There will be many from both sides of the aisle cheering his return to the United States Senate."