Pledging that a victory in the Indiana Senate primary will show Tea Party-backed candidates are "coming back with a vengeance," FreedomWorks for America outlined its plans for Senate races in Indiana and Utah.
During a conference call with reporters, Tea Party group representatives said FreedomWorks is entering full campaign mode on behalf of former Utah state Sen. Dan Liljenquist and Indiana Treasurer Richard Mourdock in their Senate races. Liljenquist is running to oust U.S. Sen. Orrin Hatch, while Mourdock is trying to defeat U.S. Sen. Richard Lugar. The group also announced its support of Saratoga Springs, Utah, Mayor Mia Love in her bid to oust Rep. Jim Matheson (D).
"People are embracing smaller government," FreedomWorks political director Russ Walker said. "We need to use free market approaches to the problems we face."
With a new poll sponsored by Citizens United showing Mourdock with a 5-point lead over Lugar in the May 8 primary, FreedomWorks is pinning many of its hopes on the state treasurer ousting the longtime incumbent. During the call, Ryan Hecker, the group's chief operating officer, said a Mourdock victory would show the country that the Tea Party is not dead and help other Tea Party candidates nationally, including Liljenquist and Texas Senate candidate Ted Cruz.
"Richard Mourdock will send a tidal wave for other Tea Party candidates around the country," Hecker said. "It will show that Tea Party candidates are coming back with a vengeance."
Hecker said FreedomWorks is sponsoring a May 5 rally in downtown Indianapolis to launch the final 72-hour, get-out-the-vote effort on behalf of Mourdock. He said the rally -- which is being co-sponsored with Indiana-based Tea Party groups along with the National Rifle Association and Indiana Right to Life -- will be a continuation of the current grassroots effort for Mourdock. He claimed that volunteers are knocking on thousands of doors across Indiana daily to discuss the race.
Hecker noted that many who have said they will attend the rally are not from Indianapolis and want to do more. "A lot of attendees have said they will spend the night," Hecker said of plans for further volunteer efforts after the rally.
Fresh off Liljenquist forcing Hatch into his first-ever contested primary during Saturday's Republican state convention, Walker said the group will continue it's push behind the former state senator, who has been a Tea Party favorite all cycle. Walker reiterated comments he made to HuffPost last week that Hatch's inability to fend off a June 26 primary signals a win for the group, noting that Hatch has taken a more conservative approach to issues.
During today's press call, Walker said the group plans a variety of efforts for Liljenquist including door walking, phone calls and voter identification.
"We are super excited about Dan," Walker said.
Walker said FreedomWorks is making Love's congressional race a top priority. He said the group plans to spend more on Love's race than the $50,000 it spent on Matheson's 2010 opponent, former state Rep. Morgan Philpot. He described Love's campaign as more "winnable" than Philpot's, saying that more national attention is likely to be paid to the race, where Love is seeking to become Utah's first black member of Congress.
Walker noted that the group sees a synergy between Liljenquist and Love's efforts, in the ability to campaign for both at once. He did say he expects Liljenquist's race to be decided in the primary, while Love's will carry through to November.
"This will be a very important congressional race for us," he said.