Souder took to his Facebook page to offer criticism and recognition to the wealthy Republican who unsuccessfully spent $600,000 last year trying to defeat him.
“I am hardly a neutral source on this, and I didn’t like the stuff he did, but he ran a pretty effective campaign given that he had zero local support,” Souder wrote. “He is an incredibly bright man and has conservative business instincts.”
Souder summed up Thomas as “not an ideal candidate, but he would be a tough competitor.” Souder said Thomas originally wanted to seek Sen. Dan Coats’ (R) seat in 2010, but he “waited too long and didn’t get the needed signatures.”
“He was told that he could probably buy the seat up in [Fort Wayne] for $500,000,” Souder continued. “It was amazing to me that people didn’t catch on to the “Bob Thomas for Indiana” slogan with the drawing of the state.”
Howey Politics Indiana, a local political newsletter, originally reported last week that Thomas is considering a bid for Senate. Lugar already faces a primary challenge from state Treasurer Richard Mourdock (R).
If Thomas gets into the race, he could boost the six-term Senator’s chances of winning re-election by splitting the anti-Lugar vote in the May GOP primary.
Souder defeated Thomas by about 14 points in 2010. But later that year, Souder resigned after the primary following his admission that he had an extramarital affair with a part-time staffer. Rep. Marlin Stutzman (R) succeeded Souder.
Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., carries a musket on stage as he speaks during the American Conservative Union's Conservative Political Action Conference (CPAC) at National Harbor, Md., on Thursday March 6, 2014.