Indiana State Treasurer Richard Mourdock (R) was endorsed by the Tea Party Express Thursday, the latest sign that Sen. Dick Lugar (R-Ind.) will be a major target of Tea Party activists in the next election.
"We are proud to endorse Richard Mourdock for US Senate. For far too long, Senator Lugar has compromised the basic principles of fiscal responsibility that the Tea Party represents," said Tea Party Express Chairwoman Amy Kremer. "As his voting record tracked increasingly to the left, it became clear it was time for Lugar to be replaced.
Mourdock received the backing of Hoosiers for a Conservative Senate, a coalition of anti-Lugar Indiana Tea Party groups, over the weekend. He has also been endorsed by Citizens United, another conservative Washington-based group.
"This is no real news. This organization has been circling this for some time, they're an outside Indiana group that really doesn't have standing in the state," said Lugar sSpokesman David Willkie. "The Lugar campaign has made over 180,000 volunteer-made phone calls to date. That certainly shows a significant amount of grassroots support on the ground and how we have mobilized people to spend our time, money and effort in support of Dick Lugar."
The Club for Growth, a conservative group with deep pockets, has slammed Lugar in advertisements but has yet to endorse Mourdock, partly because of his early fundraising struggles.
With the third quarter of fundraising ending Friday, Mourdock sent out a separate fundraising appeal Thursday touting the endorsement and calling for donations. The goal for the day was $50,000; Mourdock needs to exceed the $300,000 he raised last quarter to stay competitive.
—Updated at 3:30 p.m. to include Willkie's statement.