Scars from a contentious Republican primary have apparently not
yet healed as U.S. Sen. Richard Lugar is objecting to a campaign flier that
invokes his name and image in support of Richard Mourdock.
Mourdock defeated Lugar in the May Republican senate primary.
The flier was funded and designed by USA Super PAC, whose chairman is Jim Bopp, a Terre Haute-based attorney with a long history of work for the Republican Party and conservative causes.
The flier states that Lugar "backs Mourdock" in the November senate election against Democrat Joe Donnelly. It also includes a photograph of a smiling Lugar and shows a torch being passed from one hand to another in front of an Indiana state flag.
"Indiana's Lugar backs Mourdock in senate run," the flier states in bold letters. "Indiana's torch has been passed from one great leader to another."
But the flier is "misleading," stated Andy Fisher, a Lugar spokesman in Washington, in an email response Wednesday to questions from the Tribune-Star. What's more, the flier is being funded by an organization "that spent over $100,000 to defeat Sen. Lugar" in the 2012 primary, he stated.
"It was clearly unauthorized and done without consultation with us," Fisher stated. "During the primary, Mourdock and his supporters perpetuated misleading statements about Sen. Lugar. Unfortunately that has continued with this mailer. ..."
Bopp, whose offices are in downtown Terre Haute, told the Tribune-Star he never claimed the flier was "authorized" by Lugar or that Lugar was campaigning for Mourdock. USA Super PAC is independent and does not coordinate with any candidates, he said.
When asked whether he had consulted with Mourdock about the flier, Bopp stated he had not.
"We do independent expenditures, so we don't consult with or discuss anything that we're doing with any candidates and we didn't with [Mourdock]," Bopp said. He also said his PAC paid for only positive ads in the primary, not ads attacking Lugar.
"I don't see anything at all that's misleading about this advertisement," Bopp said. "Lugar said he's voting for [Mourdock], he hopes [Mourdock] wins. From our standpoint, this is the passing of the torch from" Lugar to Mourdock, he said.
Supporting the statement that Lugar "backs" Mourdock, Bopp pointed to Lugar's primary election night comments in which he said he hoped "my opponent prevails in November to contribute to a Republican majority" in the senate. He also pointed to a September article in Human Events magazine quoting Lugar's spokesman, Fisher, stating "Yes, [Lugar] is supporting Treasurer Mourdock" and plans to vote for him in November. The Associated Press also reported in September that Lugar, while sitting out the general election campaign, called on voters to support Mourdock to provide a GOP majority in the senate.
In light of these comments, Bopp said he finds the Lugar objections puzzling. "What's the problem here?" he asked.
The fight for a majority
Both Mourdock and Donnelly clearly see Republicans who voted for Lugar in the May primary as key to who will win on Nov. 6. Donnelly has been praising Lugar in his public statements, a move Bopp calls "cynical."
"I know that there are hard feeling [sic] that may not have healed from the primary," Bopp said in a news release issued Wednesday afternoon. But "it is incumbent on Republicans to make sure that Congressman Donnelly is not allowed to cynically exploit the situation. He was prepared to run against Sen. Lugar and to defeat him [in] the general election, except for the results of the primary."
Elizabeth Shappell, a Donnelly campaign spokeswoman, told the Tribune-Star Wednesday the Democratic senate candidate has simply been stating he would act in a bipartisan manner if elected, not unlike former Democratic Sen. Evan Bayh or Senator Lugar.
"Joe hopes to follow in their footsteps," Shappell said, noting that Donnelly and Lugar agreed on federal aid for the U.S. auto industry and in their support of the Keystone XL pipeline.
Bopp said the flier was mailed to thousands of Hoosiers this week at a cost of almost $60,000 to USA Super PAC.
There is intense national interest in the race between Mourdock and Donnelly. Democrats currently have a 51-47 majority in the senate and both parties are hoping to have the majority after the election. The Indiana race is currently seen as a "toss up," and well-known Republicans and Democrats are traveling to Indiana to try and sway voters for their man.
Distributed by MCT Information Services
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