But Mourdock is clear on one thing: he is not running as a tea party candidate. While he welcomes the support of tea party groups and says he expects them to coalesce around his campaign, he recognizes the limitations of being defined as a tea party candidate.I'm not sure why Lugar bothered meeting with Tea Party folks recently if he thought they were all "wild-eyed extremists." I'm also not sure how that comment will be taken by Tea Party activists who have encouraged Mourdock's candidacy. I guess it's not quite as bad as Chicago Mayoral candidate Gery Chico refusing to accept the endorsement of Chicago's Tea Party. Perhaps his larger point is that he will not allow Lugar to define who he is. Mourdock also says he reached an understanding with State Senator Mike Delph (R-Carmel), who has also been touted as a possible challenger to Lugar, that the two will not split the conservative vote in a primary, paving a path to victory for Lugar, as they did in 2002 when both men sought the party's nomination for Secretary of State, allowing Todd Rokita to skate past them.
"Mr. Lugar will try to paint me that way, because he's speaking very demeaningly about the tea party right now," Mourdock said. "I think he's doing it that way to set it up and say, 'Mourdock is some wild-eyed extremist.'"
But Mourdock said he and Delph have spoken and reached an understanding that they won't split the anti-Lugar vote. After all, it's happened before; when they both ran for secretary of state at the 2002 state party convention, they split the conservative vote and allowed a more moderate candidate -- now-Rep. Todd Rokita -- to win the nomination.Cillizza says Mourdock will announce his candidacy tomorrow with the support of a majority of the state's 92 Republican county chairpersons and a majority of the state committee members. That latter number is an indication the governor's designated state chairman Eric Holcomb is not acting as an imposing force in preventing members of the state committee from supporting Mourdock over Lugar, for whom Daniels formerly worked and plans to support with his vote. Some earlier reports have suggested Mourdock would announce with the support of at least two-thirds of the county chairs. "I feel bad that he's going to be humiliated by this list," Mourdock told Cillizza.
"I said, 'Remember Mike, there were four people running, and we split the vote. We know how this movie ends.' And he agreed," Mourdock said. "I think that will shake out sooner rather than later."