Indiana Treasurer Richard Mourdock toiled in the trenches of the state Republican Party for roughly two decades and lost more races than he won.
But along the way he made a name for himself among GOP loyalists by tirelessly working the fundraising circuit and building a strong network of ground-level support.
Now the 60-year-old geologist is on the brink of handing the tea party its biggest victory of the 2012 elections: Sen. Richard Lugar's seat.
It was unthinkable just months ago that anyone could topple the six-term Lugar. But Mourdock has chipped away at Lugar's base by questioning the senator's residency and conservative credentials.
Recent polls show Mourdock with the momentum, and that has emboldened conservatives eager to shake up Washington.
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