Sarah Palin endorses Richard Mourdock in Indiana Senate

Sarah Palin on Friday afternoon  publicly endorsed Republican challenger Richard Mourdock who's taking on longtime lawmaker Dick Lugar in the Indiana Senate race.

She published the following on her Facebook page:

Richard Mourdock is the conservative choice for Indiana. Senator Lugar's 36 years of service as a Senator are appreciated, but it's time for the torch to pass to conservative leadership in Washington that promises to rein in government spending now.

Lugar is in the electoral fight of his life this year: It's his first primary challenge since his election to the Senate in 1976. Mourdock has strong backing from the tea party and other groups who argue Lugar has become too moderate to represent the state.

Soon after Palin's endorsement went live just before 3 p.m. ET, Lugar's campaign blasted out an email highlighting the endorsement of 2008 presidential nominee John McCain as well as a new radio ad that features him.

Palin's endorsement comes on the same day MSNBC reported that likely Republican presidential nominee Mitt Romney does not plan to make an endorsement in the high-profile Republican Senate primary.

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