A pro-union Republican group had a double gift for Sen. Rich Lugar (R-Ind.) Wednesday -- an endorsement, accompanied by a poll that shows him with a small lead over his GOP opponent in next week's primary election.
The Lunch Pail Republicans' survey, done by Magellan Strategies, finds Lugar leading state Treasurer Richard Mourdock 44 percent to 42 percent, a statistical tie in a survey like this one done in one day and has a margin of error of plus or minus 5 percentage points.
But that's better than the lead that Mourdock-backer Citizens United found recently.
The Lunch Pail Republicans would not be counted among the most conservative GOP groups, so its backing probably won't do much to cool the tea party enthusiasm that's helping Mourdock. The survey finds self-identified tea party voters favoring the treasurer 62 percent to 20 percent. Voters who do not identify with the movement (65 percent of those surveyed) favor the incumbent 64 percent to 19 percent, highlighting a stark divide in the party.
And the Lunch Pail GOPers say they are none too pleased with the tactics of Lugar's opponents, waged not just by Mourdock, but groups that include the National Rifle Association, the Club for Growth and tea party-backing FreedomWorks.
"Having observed the dishonest, disparaging and, worst of all, disrespectful campaign being waged against Indiana Sen. Dick Lugar by the extreme wing of our party, in which his opponent resides, we feel compelled to loudly register our strongly-held opinion and actively engage our like-minded Lunch Pail Republican members and allies on behalf of Senator Dick Lugar," said Lunch Pail Republicans PAC chairman David Fagan in a statement.
Mourdock was backed earlier in the day by another conservative group, Americans for Tax Reform.
The primary is Tuesday.