‘Tea party’ group backs challenger to Indiana’s Sen. Lugar

The group that powered Joe Miller, Sharron Angle and Christine O’Donnell to Republican primary victories is back in action.

Tea Party Express, the California-based political action committee, has endorsed Indiana Treasurer Richard Mourdock in his bid to unseat six-term Republican Sen. Richard G. Lugar.

In a statement Thursday, Tea Party Express chair Amy Kremer said Mourdock was a “true conservative.”

“He understands the importance of putting an end to Washington’s wild spending and skyrocketing debt,” Kremer said.


Lugar, the most senior Republican in the Senate and the ranking member of the Foreign Relations Committee, is a target for some on the right who question his conservative credentials. Tea Party Express cited his vote in favor of the Wall Street bailout and “an attitude of disdain for the tea party movement” among the reasons for its choice. The group said it would support Mourdock’s campaign with advertising and on-the-ground organization.

Similar efforts propelled prominent tea party favorites to primary victories last year, although some of those candidates, including Angle, Miller and O’Donnell, were not successful in the general election. Tea Party Express also helped Mike Lee defeat incumbent Sen. Bob Bennett in Utah.

Lugar’s campaign pushed back against the characterization that the senator is short on conservative support.

“Sen. Lugar has been active and involved with people in Indiana and tea parties in Indiana, and it’s unfortunate that this outside group is trying to co-opt and tell people in Indiana what to think,” said Lugar campaign political director David Willkie.

Mourdock welcomed the endorsement.

“It is a reflection of the momentum and strength our campaign continues to gain on a daily basis,” he said in a statement.