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Indiana senator and Orrin Hatch face similar tea party ire

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A county elections board, controlled by Democrats, ruled in March that Lugar could not vote in his home precinct because he registered using the address for an Indianapolis home he sold in 1977. He had no actual residence in the state and later reached a deal that allowed him to change his voting registration to a family farm elsewhere in Indiana.

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From there, Mourdock started attracting major endorsements from Sarah Palin to Michele Bachmann to Grover Norquist and Americans for Tax Reform.

The most recent survey, conducted by Howey Politics Indiana and DePauw University, showed Lugar 10 percentage points behind.

Robert Vane, a spokesman for a super political action committee supporting Lugar, credits the residency scandal with giving Mourdock the lead. As does FreedomWorks' Russ Walker, who said "it had a huge impact."

But they agree on little else.

Vane argues the race remains "an utter toss-up," in part because of a last-minute call for an investigation into Mourdock's actions as treasurer. Walker says Lugar is done.

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"Voters are going to decide it is time for new leadership," he said.

Walker is FreedomWorks' point man in Utah, though he has campaigned extensively in Indiana as well. He argues that Lugar has been far less aggressive than Hatch and Hatch's surrogates have been more willing to take shots at Liljenquist.

"Lugar reacted much more like Bob Bennett did," Walker said.

Bennett was slower to take the tea party seriously and made no attempt to attack his GOP challengers. He came in third at the 2010 state Republican convention. Sen. Mike Lee eventually won the race.

Utah's multistep election process, which starts with the election of delegates, then goes to a state convention and possibly a primary before November's general election, has allowed Hatch to show his strength. Indiana's slow push to a primary has worn down Lugar.

But now that it is just Hatch versus Liljenquist, Walker hopes Utah will follow the Indiana script.

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