Mourdock is unlikely to be the only Republican who seeks the group’s support. State Sen. Mike Delph, a former staffer to Rep. Dan Burton (R-Ind.), told Roll Call he’ll focus on the job he has now and mull over other options when the state legislative session ends later this spring.
“Richard Mourdock’s announcement doesn’t change my thinking at all,” he said.
Regardless of who runs, it might take more than a tea party endorsement to take down Lugar. First elected to the Senate in 1976, Lugar had no Republican or Democratic opponent in 2006. Though he had $2.4 million on hand at the end of 2010 and has repeatedly declared his intention to run for re-election, the tea partyers still hope he will retire. They sent the Senator a letter in January warning they won’t support him and asking that he “gracefully consider retirement.”
On the other side, Democrats hope a divisive primary would benefit a Democratic nominee. Indiana Democratic Party Chairman Dan Parker said Rep. Joe Donnelly, former Rep. Brad Ellsworth and former state Health Commissioner Woody Myers have been mentioned as potential Democratic challengers.
“I think that the challenge for us is to field a strong candidate that can lay claim to the middle of the electorate because Hoosier elections are won in the middle,” Parker said.
Ellsworth, who lost to Coats by 15 points in 2010, told Roll Call he isn’t seriously pursuing another Senate bid at this point.
“It’s certainly not something I’m planning right now, but I wouldn’t rule it out either. I’m just not in the mode yet,” he said.