Political Notebook

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Path to GOP nomination getting bumpy

The whereabouts of Sen. Richard Lugar, R-Ind., and primary-election challenger Richard Mourdock are getting as much attention as their political views lately.

The Indiana Democratic Party pointed out Wednesday that Lugar had yet to visit the failing bridge that carries Interstate 64 over the Ohio River.

After Sen. Dan Coats, R-Ind., went to the closed Sherman Minton Bridge on Wednesday, five of six federal lawmakers whose Indiana or Kentucky districts include the cracked span have examined it, the Democratic Party leadership said.

“When the going gets tough for Indiana, Senator Lugar goes to Washington,” party Chairman Dan Parker said in a statement. “After 35 years in Washington, Richard Lugar is out of touch with everyday Hoosiers.”

Lugar spokesman Andy Fisher responded in an email that Lugar “has been in close contact with Governor (Mitch) Daniels and other Indiana and Kentucky officials on how to get the bridge repaired and reopened as quickly as safely possible.”

Last week it was Lugar’s campaign questioning Mourdock’s schedule after Howey Politics Indiana reported that the second-term GOP state treasurer had attended only six of the last 17 meetings of the State Board of Finance.

Mourdock “seems satisfied to admittedly ‘phone in’ when it comes to his official duties and Board of Finance meetings,” Emily Krueger, Lugar’s campaign manager, wrote in a letter to media.

Krueger also wrote that “we Republicans call on our State Treasurer to come off the campaign trail now and then, and show up for work for the benefit of Hoosiers.”

In a story published this week by the Evansville Courier & Press, Mourdock spokesman Chris Conner said that Mourdock and other state government officials, including Daniels, often designate staffers – with full voting powers – to represent their offices at Board of Finance meetings.

“Richard is a member of almost 20 different state boards by state statute. Some of these boards even meet at the same time,” Conner told the Courier & Press.