Newspaper article Evansville Courier & Press (2007-Current)

Funds on Senate Race 2nd in Nation ; Only Texas Spent More

Newspaper article Evansville Courier & Press (2007-Current)

Funds on Senate Race 2nd in Nation ; Only Texas Spent More

Article excerpt

INDIANAPOLIS - Outside interest groups have spent more to influence the outcome of Indiana's Senate race during 2011 and 2012 than in any other state but Texas. Independent expenditures in the Indiana race total nearly $5 million so far in the current campaign cycle, according to the Federal Election Commission.

Independent expenditures in Texas have totaled nearly $7 million, the FEC said.

Nearly all of the Indiana spending occurred in the Republican primary battle between current U.S. Sen. Richard Lugar and state Treasurer Richard Mourdock, who defeated the incumbent easily in the state's May primary.

Mourdock now faces Democrat Joe Donnelly, a congressman from Indiana's 2nd District, although it's not clear whether spending in the race will continue at its earlier torrid pace.

Andrew Downs, director of the Downs Center for Indiana Politics at Indiana-Purdue, Fort Wayne, said during the primary season, conservative political groups recognized that Mourdock had an opportunity to win. That's in part because he was in a one-on-one faceoff with the more moderate Lugar, whose campaign made early mistakes.

"The circumstances fed on themselves and gave Mourdock momentum at the right time," Downs said. "Once the race seemed winnable, money was likely to follow."

Also, outside groups had few places to spend money during the primary, said Kyle Kondik, an analyst at the University of Virginia Center for Politics.

"Many Senate primaries, especially ones featuring incumbents, are not all that competitive," Kondik said. "But conservatives saw a chance to knock off Richard Lugar and spent accordingly."

Leading up to the primary, Club for Growth - a conservative group that focuses on economic principles - spent nearly $1.47 million on advertising for Mourdock and against Lugar, according to the FEC. Freedom-Works, another political action committee that supported Mourdock, spent more than $566,000.

The American Action Network, a top Republican independent group, was the biggest spender among the groups that supported Lugar, according to the FEC. It spent $645,000 before the primary.

The data is based on 24-hour and 48-hour spending reports filed with the Federal Election Commission in 2011 and so far in 2012. …

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