Indiana News

Undercard of Lugar-Mourdock Fight: Business vs. Anti-Tax Groups

Chamber, IMA, NFIB back Lugar as tax-cut groups advertise for Mourdock


Some advocacy groups which normally side together on fiscal-conservative issues are at odds in the Indiana Senate primary.


Two of Richard Mourdock's most visible backers in his bid to unseat Richard Lugar are FreedomWorks and the Club for Growth, both of which campaign for cutting taxes and spending. Lugar has countered with endorsements from the Indiana Chamber, Indiana Manufacturers Association, and National Federation of Independent Business.

Chamber president Kevin Brinegar says the U-S Chamber has ranked Lugar's voting record the best in the Senate for four straight years, while the N-F-I-B has given him a perfect score 17 years in a row. He contends it's FreedomWorks and the Club that are out of sync.

Club for Growth president Chris Chocola, a former Indiana congressman, responds his group is pro-free market, not pro-business. He criticizes Lugar for supporting the banking and auto industry bailouts, and for his willingness to vote for earmarks. Lugar has argued the money would be still be spent without earmarks, but at the sole discretion of the executive branch.

Club for Growth's scorecard for last year gives Lugar an 80-percent ranking -- better than any Democrat, but 29th among the 47 Senate Republicans. Since 2005, when the group began its scorecard, Lugar's overall score has been 65-percent. In 2006, when Republicans held 55 Senate seats, Lugar ranked 45th with a score of 52-percent.

As state treasurer, Mourdock unsuccessfully sued to block the administration's fast-track bankruptcy deal for the automakers as a violation of the rights of creditors,. including Indiana pension funds. Manufacturers Association president Patrick Kiely says the IMA endorsement of Lugar is based purely on the incumbent's voting record. But he says without the bailouts, more than 100-thousand Hoosiers would have lost their jobs -- not just at G-M and Chrysler, but at companies further down the supply chain he says were "teetering" as the automakers tried to stay afloat.

Although Lugar, the Chamber and the IMA eagerly promoted the groups' endorsement, the groups will not weigh in on the race beyond publicizing the endorsement in their newsletters to members. In contrast, the Washington-based Club and FreedomWorks have already pumped hundreds of thousands of dollars into advertising on Mourdock's behalf.


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