Huffpost Politics
John Celock Headshot

Indiana Senate Race: Tea Party Leaders Say Anti-Lugar Formula Can Be Used In Other States

Posted: Updated:
Sen. Richard Lugar
Sen. Richard Lugar

WASHINGTON -- A week after unseating a six-term incumbent senator, leaders of FreedomWorks, a national Tea Party organization, said they have the winning formula to install a conservative majority in the Senate.

The group told HuffPost that the process used by a Hoosier Tea Party coalition to defeat U.S. Sen. Richard Lugar (R-Ind.) in last week's Republican primary can be duplicated in other states going forward. The plan includes unifying various Tea Party groups in a state, focusing on a singular candidate and message, and grassroots-level activism.

Leaders of Hoosiers for a Conservative Senate, an umbrella group of Indiana's 80 Tea Party groups said the coalition was formed in 2010 with the intent to defeat Lugar after the senator voted to confirm Supreme Court Justice Elena Kagen. The group's leaders said Lugar's vote for Kagen, following his vote in 2009 to confirm Supreme Court Justice Sonia Sotomayor, showed he was not a conservative voice in the Senate.

"It was the last straw," Greg Fettig, the coalition's co-founder told HuffPost.

Working with fellow co-founder Monica Boyer, the pair worked to unify the famously independent Tea Party under one umbrella group with the goal of defeating Lugar. They said the 2010 GOP primary win of Sen. Dan Coats in Indiana over Tea Party favorites showed them the need to unify around one candidate, said Fettig.

"It we could unite them around a singular cause, we could have an army," he said.

The group started by organizing meetings with Tea Party leaders from around the state to discuss defeating Lugar, based on the senator's Supreme Court nominations, earmarks and position on border security. Facing distrust from local Tea Party groups about a statewide organization, the duo said the umbrella group tasked local activists with promoting grassroots politics in the state.

The organization organized the state by congressional district and gave out individual tasks. Fettig said the group started finding individual groups working on their own with the goal of defeating Lugar. Boyer and Fettig said the group backed State Treasurer Richard Mourdock in the primary after seeing him speak at a Washington rally.

Mourdock defeated Lugar and now faces Rep. Joe Donnelly (D) in a November general election.

Among the tasks divvied up were knocking on doors and distributing information. Boyer said that Tea Party members obtained lists of houses to visit on their own without consulting the state coalition or FreedomWorks, an effort the coalition supported.

Ryan Hecker, FreedomWorks chief operating officer, said the group hopes to utilize the Indiana strategy in other states this year and going forward. He said the group has seen success with similar practices in Texas where Tea Party favorite Ted Cruz is battling Lt. Gov. David Dewhurst in a U.S. Senate primary and in Utah where Dan Liljenquist is trying to unseat Sen. Orrin Hatch in a Republican primary. The group also sees the model helping Ohio Treasurer Josh Mandel (R) in his campaign to unseat Sen. Sherrod Brown (D-Ohio).

Hecker said that the group primarily sees the Indiana strategy as being effective in 2014 in multiple states, including South Carolina, where a large GOP field is expected in an open seat race. He said the group is aiming for a conservative majority within a Republican Senate majority.

Russ Walker from FreedomWorks said he believes the Indiana model be effective nationally. "There is no better messager than the guy on your cul de sac," Walker said.

The Hoosier activists said they cannot wait to spread their message. "There was a methodical process and blueprint that Indiana is excited to share with the world," Boyer said.

CORRECTION: An earlier version of this piece incorrectly named Mr. Fettig as a Mr. Faetting. It has been edited to reflect the correct spelling.

Around the Web

Daniels on the Indiana Senate race, 2012 election

Once an Obama coup, Indiana less a battleground

Ron Formisano: Tea Party still brewing upsets; strength yet to be determined

State Treasurer Richard Mourdock Defeats Long-time Incumbent in Indiana Senate ...

Mourdock Defeats Lugar in Indiana Senate Race

Lugar program grads, Indiana tea party activists have different views of what ...

Lugar's Last Race: Indiana Senator Doesn't Take Defeat Sitting Down

US Senate races encourage Dems

US SENATE ELECTIONS: Republicans worry hopefuls won't get independent votes

 
Register To Vote