Veteran Sen. Dick Lugar, R-Ind., has turned into the top GOP electoral target of national conservative groups, as he battles tea partying state Treasurer Richard Mourdock in the May 8 primary.
Lugar has drawn the ire of groups including the fiscally conservative Club for Growth, tea party group FreedomWorks, and the National Rifle Association (NRA), The Hill
reports. Social conservative groups such as Gary Bauer’s Campaign for Working Families and the Eagle Forum also have endorsed Mourdock.
Beating Lugar “is a big focus of ours,” Club for Growth President Chris Chocola told The Hill.
The Club for Growth and NRA both have launched advertising campaigns against Lugar, and other groups plan to do the same.
The work seems to be having some effect. A recent poll by Howey Politics/DePauw University shows Mourdock trailing Lugar by just 7 percentage points: 42 to 35 percent. That’s not far out of the poll’s 4.5 percentage point margin of error.
Lugar may be the victim of failed tea party challenges in other states. National conservative groups originally looked at fighting Sens. Olympia Snowe, R-Maine, and Bob Corker, R-Tenn. But Snowe is retiring, and Corker doesn’t face any serious competition.
Meanwhile, Sen. Orrin Hatch, R-Utah, appears set to win the nomination, even though FreedomWorks spent more than $650,000 against him.
“Lugar is more vulnerable than Orrin Hatch. Hatch has swung hard to the right, FreedomWorks Vice President Russ Walker told The Hill. “Lugar, on the other hand, is more like what we saw in 2010 with these incumbents. He’s been unwilling to say, ‘I’m sorry for what I did.’”
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