Indiana tea party groups endorse Lugar challenger

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INDIANAPOLIS (AP) — Indiana tea party groups have overwhelmingly endorsed the Republican state treasurer’s bid to unseat six-term U.S. Sen. Richard Lugar in next year’s Senate race.

During a straw vote Saturday by Hoosiers for a Conservative Senate, 96 of the 97 votes cast went to tea party favorite Richard Mourdock. One vote in the secret ballot went to Lugar, who did not attend the meeting.

Hoosiers for a Conservative Senate co-chair Monica Boyer says the activists left the gathering resolved to work toward Mourdock defeating Lugar in May’s GOP primary. Tea party groups have criticized Lugar for his votes on some immigration issues and for President Barack Obama’s Supreme Court nominations.

U.S. Rep. Joe Donnelly is the only announced Democratic candidate for the Senate seat that Lugar first won in 1976.