Sen. Dick Lugar (R-IN) is being targeted by the National Rifle Association — who will endorse his challenger in the Republican primary, state Treasurer Richard Mourdock.
The Mourdock campaign confirmed the endorsement to TPM.
The NRA provides another boost to Mourdock from conservative groups, following his endorsement last month from the Club For Growth.
The presumptive Democratic nominee for the general election is three-term Rep. Joe Donnelly.
Lugar was first elected to the Senate way back in 1976, after having previously served as Mayor of Indianapolis, and after having run one unsuccessful Senate race in the Democratic wave year of 1974. He then defeated another Dem incumbent in 1976 by a landslide margin. He won a 54%-46% re-election in 1982, and in the 30 years since then he has never received less than 66% of the vote — indeed, in his last race in 2006, he didn’t have any Democratic opponent at all, wining by 87%-13% against a Libertarian candidate.
This year, though, Mourdock is seeking to harness Tea Party ire at established, relatively moderate Republicans like Lugar.
At the same time, Lugar has faced questions over his own tricky political issue: that he lives mainly in northern Virginia, and has not owned a home in Indiana itself since 1977, the year after he was first elected to the Senate.
In late February, the state Election Commission voted 4-0 to reject a challenge to his legal residency, which was lodged by a small group of conservative activists, thus upholding his place on the ballot.
Lugar’s campaign has cited the Indiana constitution, and the opinions of current and past state attorneys general, to show that Lugar did not legally lose his residency when he left for Washington to serve the state as its senator decades ago. However, they have also struggled with the appropriate public messaging — such as comparing his legal status to that of military service.