Mourdock says he’s made decision about Senate run

Indiana state Treasurer Richard Mourdock says he's made a decision and will make an announcement soon about whether he'll challenge longtime U.S. Sen. Richard Lugar in the 2012 Republican primary.

Mourdock, 59, spoke about his plans at a meeting of the Tippecanoe County Republican Women's Club, according to the Journal & Courier in Lafayette.

"I've had a lot of people talk to me about considering running for U.S. Senate in 2012," Mourdock told about 80 people. "On February 22nd, we're going to be touring the state to make a special announcement."

The Associated Press left messages for Mourdock and his spokesman Sunday seeking comment.

Lugar's press secretary said the senator is ready for a primary fight.

"Senator Lugar, from the beginning, has been preparing for challengers in the primary and general elections," said Mark Hayes. "This is why we started our fund-raising and rallied our volunteers. Senator Lugar is taking this election seriously, just like he's taken every election seriously throughout his career."

Mourdock told the group he has great respect for Lugar.

"Let me start simply by saying there's no one in the state of Indiana that has a greater respect for Sen. Lugar," Mourdock said. "He is an honorable man and has served us all honorably."

A primary contest should benefit the party in the long run, the state treasurer added.

"As Republicans, we believe in the free market. We believe in competition in the marketplace and competition in the market of ideas," Mourdock said. "The competition in Republicanism is equally important.

"And so I look forward to that type of debate and having that type of competition of ideas expressed during the primary season of 2012. I'm sure I'll be back by many times between now and then, but I wanted you to be the very first group to say that to and share that thought with."

Mourdock gained attention in 2009 as he took an unsuccessful fight against the Chrysler bankruptcy proceedings all the way to the U.S. Supreme Court. His objections to the move were on behalf of three state pension funds.

Republican club President Barb Knochel said Lugar's age and what she said was his shift to the political center are reasons someone else should fill the seat.

"Richard Lugar served us for many years, but some people think it's time for a change. He will be 80 next year," Knochel said. "I think people perceive he is becoming less conservative as he ages."

Hayes challenged the idea that Lugar is too moderate to represent the GOP in 2012.

"He has always been a conservative, and he has always been a Republican, and he has voted for those principles— pro-business and lower taxes and small government," the spokesman said. "He's pro-life. This is nothing new. He has always been the conservative Republican that he is today."

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