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Richard Lugar: Win by my 'tea party' rival may doom GOP Senate control

May 07, 2012|By Lisa Mascaro
  • Wayne Stanley shows his support for Sen. Richard Lugar (R-Ind.) before a U.S. Senate debate in Indianapolis.
Wayne Stanley shows his support for Sen. Richard Lugar (R-Ind.) before… (Darron Cummings / Associated…)

WASHINGTON -- As longtime Indiana Sen. Richard Lugar fights for his political life, he is warning Hoosiers that if his "tea party"-backed opponent wins this week’s primary, it would hand the longtime Republican-held seat to Democrats this fall -- and dampen GOP chances to gain majority control of the Senate.

In an email push, "Forewarn Family & Friends," before Tuesday’s election, the Lugar camp told supporters -- without naming his opponent, Richard Mourdock -- that a loss would sacrifice the seat. Republicans need four seats to win majority control of the Senate.

"Save Dick Lugar and Indiana's Senate seat," the email said, noting that polls show Lugar's political fate will be decided by "just a few votes in each neighborhood."

Mourdock, the Indiana state treasurer, has found support among the party faithful as he positions himself further along the right flank than Lugar, who has represented Indiana for 35 years.

The winner of Tuesday’s open primary would likely face Democratic Rep. Joe Donnelly this fall. The congressman’s moderate voting record could appeal to some Republicans and independents, experts say. A similar dynamic was at work in some races during the 2010 election, when tea party-backed candidates Christine O’Donnell in Delaware and Sharron Angle in Nevada lost, allowing Democratic victories.

"If people want to get a Republican majority in the Senate, they'll vote for me," Lugar said recently between campaign stops. "We saw in the last election, in 2010, I think unfortunately some outside groups coming in, some unusual Republican candidates who lost. That's the reason we don't have a majority now.”

Mourdock has dismissed such characterizations, and said recently he is ready to fight in the fall, if he wins the primary.

"Bring it," he said.

Original source: Lugar: GOP can't get Senate majority without him

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