Lugar Supporters Muddy Waters in Indiana Senate Race

Thursday, 18 Oct 2012 01:43 PM

By Andra Varin

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Indiana’s outgoing Sen. Richard Lugar has decided to withhold his endorsment of the Republican who forced him out in the GOP primary, despite some claims to the contrary.

Lugar had wanted to run for re-election in November, but he lost the primary to tea party favorite Richard Mourdock, who argued that Lugar wasn’t conservative enough.

mourdock.jpg
Richard Mourdock (AP Photo)
Mourdock, 61, Indiana’s state treasurer, is now locked in a tight race with Democrat Joe Donnelly, 57, a three-term congressman with a centrist record. With polls showing the race effectively tied, both candidates are now trying to woo Lugar supporters.

A mailer from the conservative USA super-PAC — which spent $134,014 to help Mourdock beat Lugar in the primary — claims "Indiana's Lugar Backs Mourdock in Senate Run” and goes on to trumpet that “Indiana’s torch has been passed from one great leader to another.”

Not so fast, said the Lugar camp. Spokesman Andy Fisher said the veteran lawmaker wants the Senate to retain Republican seats, but he isn’t endorsing Mourdock.

“During the primary, Mourdock and his supporters perpetuated misleading statements about Sen. Lugar,” Fisher told the Indianapolis Star on Wednesday. “Unfortunately, that has continued with this mailer funded by a committee that spent over $100,000 to defeat Sen. Lugar. It was clearly unauthorized and done without consultation with us.”

Jim Bopp, the Terre Haute lawyer who founded the super-PAC, maintained the mailer was accurate.
donnelly.jpg
Joe Donnelly (AP Photo)


But many Lugar supporters aren’t happy with the way Mourdock treated the veteran senator, who was first elected in 1976.

“Dick Lugar is a statesman," Republican Karl Stein, 63, told Reuters. "I don't like the way he was thrown under the bus after all he's done for Indiana.”

Donnelly has sought to capitalize on that sentiment, calling Lugar “an American hero” and telling the veteran senator’s supporters that the same issues matter to him.

So far, Mourdock has raised $4 million, compared to $2.6 million for Donnelly, according to the Center for Responsive Politics.

But advocacy groups are pouring money into this race — more than $20 million so far., according to The Associated Press.

Along with Bopp’s super PAC, Mourdock has gotten support from the conservative Club for Growth and Karl Rove’s Crossroads GOP, which has spent $3.8 million on the Indiana race, according to the AP.

Donnelly has the backing of the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee, which has ponied up $2.1 million in the race. Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid’s Majority PAC has spent $1.9 million on the contest, the AP said.

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