Outside Groups Influencing Indiana Senate Primary

Photograph by Win McNamee/Getty Images

Sen. Richard Lugar outside the Senate chamber in Washington.

Indiana Senator Richard Lugar is getting extra help from some powerful people as a May 8 Republican primary nears.

YG Network Inc., a non-profit independent expenditure group led by former aides to House Majority Leader Eric Cantor and House Majority Whip Kevin McCarthy, two days ago spent $104,628 on a mailing designed to help the sixth-term senator who is facing his toughest re-election ever. Lugar, who faces off against Indiana state Treasurer Richard Mourdock, is battling against attack ads funded by super-PACs and outside groups like Club for Growth and FreedomWorks. Both groups say Lugar is too supportive of expanding the scope of government.

Brad Dayspring, a spokesman for YG Network and Cantor’s former communications director, said the Indiana primary is “a natural first playing field” for an effort by the nonprofit group to educate voters about lawmakers like Lugar it believes will help boost U.S. energy production without endangering the environment.

Indiana Governor Mitch Daniels, a Republican who backs Lugar, has also elevated his profile in the race, appearing in an April 23 ad to make light of the outside groups who seek to define Lugar.

“It’s funny in a way, folks from elsewhere here telling us who’s a real Hoosier,” he said in the ad shot from Lugar’s Indiana farm and aired in Indianapolis. “I can’t think of anyone so reflective of the thinking, principles and ideals of our state.”

He could use the help. Majority PAC, a super-PAC run by two former top aides to Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, spent $17,500 on online advertisements attacking Lugar, Federal Election Commission filings show. Majority PAC is working to defend the Democrats’ 53-47 Senate majority, and surveys show that the Democratic nominee, Representative Joe Donnelly, may be more competitive against Mourdock than against Lugar.

Greg Giroux contributed to this post.

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