-- The war of words between Lugar and Mourdock spilled over into the esoteric this week, after the Lugar camp called a poll conducted for a pro-Mourdock conservative group "non-credible" (the poll showed Lugar slightly behind the upstart challenger). Pollster Fritz Wenzel, who conducted the poll for the Citizens United Political Victory Fund, said, "It goes without saying that we stand strongly behind our polling in Indiana." Lugar's campaign claims their polling shows that the longtime incumbent "is, was and will remain in the lead," but it is telling that they did not release any data to support that assertion. Observers are likely to get their best -- and likely last -- look at the May 8 primary late next week, when Howey Politics Indiana and DePauw University release the second survey in their new polling venture, conducted jointly by Democratic pollster Fred Yang and Republican pollster Christine Matthews. The Hotline has learned that the poll will go into the field early next week. -- A few things became clear in the first week of the Utah primary between Sen. Orrin Hatch and his GOP challenger Dan Liljenquist in terms of outside groups: the U.S. Chamber of Commerce endorsed Hatch while FreedomWorks officially endorsed Liljenquist. The Tea Party Express announced they would steer clear of the race. A few things are still unclear: FreedomWork, which was heavily involved in the lead-up to the convention, has committed to a GOTV effort on Liljenquist's behalf, but hasn't committed to going up on television. And the Club for Growth - currently focused on Indiana's primary - says they're still deciding whether or not to get involved. Keep an eye on how the Indiana results affect this race, a Mourdock victory could give efforts to unseat Hatch fresh momentum. -- Sen. Scott Brown, R-Mass., and his Democratic challenger Elizabeth Warren released tax returns on Friday - six years for him, four years for her. The returns showed both candidates are well-off, Warren slightly more so than Brown. Still, Democrats hope too turn the returns to their advantage, as Brown's campaign has been striving to portray the senator as a "regular guy" and Warren as an elitist. -- While Virginia Attorney General Ken Cuccinelli can spin his fraud lawsuit against Tareq Salahi as being good for his campaign because it reminds voters that he's tough on crime, the reality is any time Cuccinelli spends engaging Salahi elevates the former White House party crasher. Cuccinelli is comfortably ahead of Lt. Gov. Bill Bolling in the GOP primary; engaging in exchanges with Salahi through the media instead of just letting his staff handle most it gives Salahi a chance to suck up media attention and help Bolling by attacking Cuccinelli. Ignoring the former Democratic donor and self-described "moderate" outside of the court would force Salahi to defend his past instead of being even on Cuccinelli's playing field. -- Missouri gubernatorial candidate Dave Spence made another misstep this week: First, the Republican questioned said he doesn't know if Obama is Muslim. Then, his campaign extended the story a few days later when they sent an email to reporters and accidentally attached talking point on dealing with questions about his comments. Spence's campaign is trying to keep the focus on his business experience, and stories like this don't help.
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