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Associated Press
Sen. Richard Lugar and Richard Mourdock participated in a debate Wednesday. In the first quarter of this year, Mourdock raised more funds than six-term incumbent Lugar.

Mourdock’s funds top in quarter

– Primary-election challenger Richard Mourdock raised more money in campaign contributions in the first quarter of this year than six-term incumbent Sen. Richard Lugar, R-Ind.

Mourdock’s campaign announced Thursday it collected $875,000 in contributions for the first three months of 2012. That is nearly as much as Mourdock had attracted – roughly $1.08 million – through the end of last year. He announced his candidacy in February 2011.

Lugar’s campaign said it raised $817,000 for the first quarter of this year. Its total contributions for the current election cycle stand at nearly $5.35 million, and Lugar had $2.5 million in cash ahead of the May 8 Republican primary election.

Mourdock said in a statement that his first-quarter performance “speaks volumes about our campaign efforts to add another conservative to the United States Senate.”

Lugar spokesman Andy Fisher said in an email that much of Mourdock’s money was “coming through the ‘bundling’ of money by Club for Growth. His campaign has not been able to garner significant Indiana financial support or organizational support and has counted on out-of-state special interests.”

Club for Growth is a fiscally conservative group based in Washington, D.C., and is headed by Chris Chocola, a former Republican congressman for Indiana’s 2nd District. The organization endorsed Mourdock’s candidacy in February and on its website calls Lugar a R.I.N.O. – or Republican In Name Only.

Mourdock’s statement said his first-quarter money came from 5,700 donors. He did not say how many were Indiana residents, and a campaign spokesman did not provide information on donations related to Club for Growth.

Fisher said “the majority” of Lugar’s first-quarter contributions came “from individual Hoosiers.”

Lugar’s report summary shows he has raised $1.2 million from political action committees to date, $250,000 of it in the first quarter. PACs tend to operate out of Washington, D.C., although many maintain they represent nationwide special interests, including in the states of congressmen they contribute money to.

Detailed first-quarter financial reports for Lugar and Mourdock had not been posted online by the FEC as of Thursday evening.

Earlier Thursday, the Indiana Chamber of Commerce and the Indiana Manufacturers Association endorsed Lugar’s re-election bid. The Chamber says it represents 5,000 member companies, and the IMA represents 1,400 employers.