Compare that to Utah, where another longtime Republican senator has also come under pressure from conservatives who would like to see his ouster. In the Beehive State, the Club ran an ad similar to the spot they ran in Indiana warning Sen. Orrin Hatch
over the debt limit. There, Hatch does not have a Republican opponent yet, but amid strong buzz that Rep. Jason Chaffetz
will make a bid on Hatch's right, the Club has already publicly urged Chaffetz, "Run, Jason, Run!"
"If the Club for Growth, and the other, call them, conservative groups in DC choose to get involved with this race, that's great, we're going to be glad to have them," said Mourdock. "But I'm going to win regardless."
Howey Politics Indiana's Brian Howey
also recently outlined some other minor problems the Mourdock campaign has had to deal with in recent weeks, including Mourdock having to explain having more than one homestead exemption
But in spite of his early struggles, a quick boost of momentum down the road could go a long way for Mourdock.
"We came to see in the 2010 Senate primary here, when a national figure like Jim DeMint swooped in for Marlin Stutzman
, he was able to raise a quarter of a million bucks," pointed out Ed Feigenbaum
, author of Indiana Legislative Insight
, a state politics and government newsletter. "Either one of them can stumble through... and all of a sudden there could be a particular catalyst," he added.
Lugar, too, will need to find a consistent message that resonates with Republican voters. In his first television ad, Lugar presents himself as a "veteran, fighting alongside our new recruits," a unique pitch. But in his ad, he also worked to distance himself from President Obama
, a reminder of the extent to which opponents will work to tie him to the president.
"With any organization, it's good to have people of varying degrees of service. Young, experienced, mid-career - all can add benefit and be incorporated into making a more effective and efficient body," said Lugar political director David Willkie
The Indiana Senate race is, at least, another reminder that as vulnerable as an incumbent may be, his or her opponent still needs to be of a certain caliber to win an election. We'll find out in the coming months if Mourdock is up to the task and Lugar has developed a robust enough defense of his record to win another nomination.
-- Josh Kraushaar contributed to this post