Political Notebook

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Thomas skips Senate bid

The Indiana Republican primary election for the U.S. Senate apparently will remain a two-man race.

The website Howey Politics Indiana reported Tuesday that Carmel resident Bob Thomas, who owns a Ford auto dealership in Fort Wayne, will not run for the seat held since 1977 by Sen. Richard Lugar, R-Ind.

"We don't see a chance to win," Thomas told Howey Politics Indiana. "I don't want to be a second candidate against an incumbent."

State Treasurer Richard Mourdock is challenging Lugar in the May 8 primary election. Mourdock has been an announced candidate since February 2011 and has received endorsements from local, state and national tea party organizations.

Thomas had told Howey Politics Indiana in November he might consider joining the race. He finished second in a four-way 2010 GOP congressional primary won by Rep. Mark Souder, R-3rd.

After Souder acknowledged an extramarital affair and resigned from Congress, Thomas came in fifth among 15 candidates in a 3rd District GOP caucus vote won by state lawmaker Marlin Stutzman, who later was elected to the U.S. House in the general election.

Mourdock in November told Political Notebook he had seen no evidence Thomas was collecting signatures of registered voters needed to qualify for the election. A Senate candidate must gather at least 500 signatures in each of Indiana's nine congressional district by Feb. 10 to get a spot on the primary-election ballot.

Through September, the most recent filing period for campaign finance reports, Lugar had raised more than $3.8 million in campaign contributions, compared with about $800,000 for Mourdock. Thomas told Howey Politics Indiana he would have needed to spend $2 million if he were to challenge Lugar.

Meanwhile, Politico reported in December that it had received documents indicating Thomas had voted in a primary election only once in the last decade -- when he ran for the 3rd District seat in 2010.

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