Lugar expects Tea Party challenger

Sen. Richard Lugar (R-Ind.) said he anticipates a Tea Party challenger in his 2012 reelection effort.

Lugar, a senior Republican senator who serves as ranking member of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, is counting on a primary race against a Tea Party-backed candidate, he said Friday.

"I anticipate that there will be a candidate or candidates running in the Republican primary against me," Lugar said on an episode of Bloomberg TV's "Political Capital" to air this weekend. "This is why we have taken a very early campaign stance of vigorous fundraising, vigorous campaigning, anticipating that that kind of a campaign might occur. It's not one that I welcome, but nevertheless, this is a democracy."

Lugar's been one of the few Republicans willing to work occasionally with President Obama to help shepherd legislation through the Senate. This has meant, at times, breaking with GOP leaders and risking the enmity of Tea Party voters.

Despite this, Lugar has given every indication he'll seek another term in 2012.

Tea Party candidates took an active role in the 2010 elections by launching primary campaigns against establishment Republicans whom they viewed as insufficiently conservative.

"People are free to express views that they want to," the Indiana Republican said. "But likewise, I'm free to as vigorously as possible point out the things that I think are very important for our country."