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  Indiana GOP lines up behind Lugar's primary challenger
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ContributorTX DEM 
Last EditedTX DEM  Feb 21, 2011 01:30pm
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News DateMonday, February 21, 2011 09:30:00 PM UTC0:0
DescriptionIndiana State TreasurerRichard Mourdock will launch his primary challenge to Sen. Richard Lugar (R-Ind.) on Tuesday with the support of a majority of both the state's 92 Republican county chairmen and its state party executive committee, he told the Fix in a recent interview.

"I feel bad that he's going to be humiliated by this list," Mourdock said.

Mourdock added that he believes Gov. Mitch Daniels (R) and Rep. Mike Pence (R), the party's two leading figures in the Hoosier State, are going to stay neutral in the primary -- though Daniels, who was Lugar's campaign manager three different times, has already committed to voting for the senator.

That such a large contingent of the party establishment should come out against or withhold support from an incumbent senator is highly unusual and reflects the difficult path ahead for Lugar in advance of the May 8, 2012, primary fight. It also suggests there is a clear path to victory for Mourdock.

Mourdock will officially launch his campaign with a six-city tour.

He said that running for Senate is not necessarily anything that he wanted to do or planned to do, but that he felt he needed to. "I'm the best-poised person in Indiana to do it right now," Mourdock said. "I kind of wish somebody else was, but I'm it."

In launching his campaign, Mourdock becomes the latest conservative primary candidate to run against a Republican incumbent. Last cycle, three incumbent senators lost renomination; two of them lost to tea party-backed candidates.

But Mourdock is clear on one thing: he is not running as a tea party candidate. While he welcomes the support of tea party groups and says he expects them to coalesce around his campaign, he recognizes the limitations of being defined as a tea party candidate.

"Mr. Lugar will try to paint me that way, because he's speaking very demeaningly about the tea party right now," Mourdock said.
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