04/12/2012 06:37 pm ET

Richard Lugar, Richard Mourdock Square Off In Indiana GOP Primary Debate

Sen. Richard Lugar and State Treasurer Richard Mourdock faced off on Wednesday in the first and only GOP primary debate in the Indiana Senate race, ahead of the May 8 primary.

During the hour-long debate, both candidates maintained a strong level of respect for the other, the Indianapolis Star reports.

Both candidates pushed for expanding domestic oil exploration, which they argued would lower gas prices, and for the need to reduce federal regulations and scale back the size of government. When an opportunity arose for Mourdock to slam Lugar for not having lived in Indiana since 1977, the Star reports, Mourdock declined to go on the attack.

The race for the Indiana Senate seat has divided conservative groups that are usually aligned with each other, according to WIBC News. FreedomWorks and the Club for Growth are two of Mourdock’s biggest backers. Lugar, on the other hand, has obtained endorsements from the Indiana Chamber of Commerce, Indiana Manufacturers Association and the National Federation of Independent Business.

The divide has to do with Lugar's voting record. While the Chamber has ranked Lugar's voting record as the best in the Senate and the NFIB has given him a perfect score 17 years in a row, Club for Growth ranks him 29th out of 47 Senate Republicans.

According to some polls Lugar is currently leading Mourdock by single digits.

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