Lugar camp urges Republicans to abandon Mourdock

Sen. Dick Lugar's (R-Ind.) campaign said Monday that State Treasurer Richard Mourdock (R) would meet the same electoral fate in 2012 that Republicans Sharron Angle and Christie O'Donnell did last November should he win the Senate nomination.

Lugar is facing a tough primary challenge from the right in the form of Mourdock and has generated significant opposition from Tea Party groups, but his campaign is betting that Rep. Joe Donnelly's (D-Ind.) entry into the race will wake primary voters up to the electability argument.   

In a letter to Indiana Republicans on Monday, Lugar's political director warned them not to be "duped into participating in the same failed scheme that resulted in Christine O'Donnell and Sharron Angle and cost us two crucial Senate seats in 2010."

O'Donnell and Angle both defeated more centrist Republicans in primaries in Delaware and Nevada last year. They both lost their general election contests.

National Democrats see an opening in 2012 should Lugar lose the GOP primary to Mourdock and have successfully recruited Donnelly into the race. Donnelly made his candidacy official Monday and the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee quickly touted the race a "great pickup opportunity."

"Common wisdom says that Dick Lugar would easily win a general election in 2012 with a recent poll showing that he is the most popular public official in the state of Indiana," Lugar political director David Willkie argued in the letter. 

Willkie directly slammed the dozens of Republican County Chairmen in Indiana who have endorsed Mourdock.

"If the Republican parties in Delaware, Nevada and Colorado had taken the Reagan 'big tent' approach, we would have already repealed Obamacare," Willkie continued. "I encourage all Republican leaders to rally around the Dick Lugar flag now; you have been led down a wrong path and it's time to come home."  

Mourdock's campaign didn't immediately respond to a request for comment.

Meanwhile, Lugar touted the strength of his early fundraising efforts in an interview with CNN's John King set to air Monday night. Lugar is sitting on a $3 million campaign war chest.