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Club for Growth targeting ‘establishment’ GOP candidates

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From the Washington Times:

If longtime Sen. Richard G. Lugar of Indiana loses his Republican primary Tuesday — which polls show is highly possible — several factors invariably will be blamed for his downfall: His advanced age (80); the aggressive campaign of his challenger, state Treasurer Richard Mourdock; and the lawmaker’s moderate views, which increasingly rub against a party pulling to the political right.

But another key force behind Mr. Lugar’s troubles is the fiscally conservative, free-market Club for Growth, which relentlessly has pushed to oust the six-term senator.

“I think Dick Lugar is a fine man, but that doesn’t make him a fine senator at this point in the current political environment,” said Club for Growth President Chris Chocola, a fellow Indianan.

Mr. Lugar is just one many incumbent or party-backed moderate Republicans the influential group has targeted in recent congressional elections — with varying degrees of success.

In 2010, it backed Marco Rubio’s seemingly long-shot campaign for the Senate Republican nomination in Florida against then-Gov. Charlie Crist, the party’s early favorite. Mr. Crist’s campaign stumbled so badly he dropped out of the primary to run as an independent, and Mr. Rubio emerged victorious in the three-way general election.