By Susan Guyett
INDIANAPOLIS (Reuters) - An agreement to restore U.S. Senator Richard Lugar's Indiana residency gave the six-term Republican back his right to vote, but his eligibility to run in what should be a tough May 8 primary was still under challenge.
Lugar and his wife, Charlene, agreed to register their Indiana family farm as their address for voting purposes, satisfying the Marion County Election Board, which stripped the Lugars of their vote in a 3-2 March 15 decision.
Since he took office in 1977, the Lugars had relied on a series of legal opinions that concluded they could use their old address. They have had a home in McLean, Virginia, outside Washington since he came to the Senate.
A hearing on the issue before Circuit Court Judge Louis Rosenberg was delayed as the two sides worked out the settlement.
Lugar attorney J. Lee McNeely said the Lugars never thought they were in error but agreed to use the family farm address to bring the matter to rest.
"There comes a point in time when you have to ask how much longer are you are going to litigate," McNeely said.
But still to be resolved is Lugar's eligibility to be on the ballot in the May 8 primary, the first serious party challenge Lugar has faced since he was first elected to the Senate in 1976.
The Indiana State Board of Elections has held that Lugar is eligible to run for his Senate seat, but challengers argue he does not meet the qualification because he does not live in the state. A hearing will be held in April.
Lugar's primary challenger, Indiana Treasurer Richard Mourdock, maintained the U.S. Constitution requires Senate candidates to be inhabitants of the state at the time of election.
"That's not a technicality you can let pass," Mourdock said in a recent interview with Reuters.
(Editing by Andrew Stern and Paul Thomasch)