Washington (CNN) – Republican Sen. Richard Lugar of Indiana, who faces a primary challenge next year, says his re-election campaign brought in nearly $1 million so far this year.
In an email release Monday, Lugar reports raising nearly $974,000 in the first quarter of 2011, bringing his campaign's cash on hand to just over $3 million.
"I'm enthusiastic about a great campaign that our supporters are waging," said Lugar, in a statement. "We started this campaign months ago because I wanted to be clear about my intention to seek reelection in 2012."
Lugar is facing a primary challenge from the right, from Indiana State Treasurer Richard Mourdock, who announced his bid on February 22. An aide to Mourdock tells CNN that they'll be releasing their campaign cash numbers later this week. State Sen. Mike Delph is also considering a primary challenge.
Lugar says the first quarter numbers are a first step in what he says will be a strong re-election effort.
"The funds raised in this first quarter of 2011 lay a solid foundation for all of the activity my campaign team is initiating throughout Indiana," Lugar said. "We are building a solid grassroots organization of supporters, givers and volunteers across Indiana. They will ward off any outside groups that want to dictate their own agenda on Hoosiers."
Some local groups, like Hoosiers for a Conservative Senate, and some national organizations, like FreedomWorks, are trying to find a consensus conservative candidate to take on Lugar in next year's GOP Senate primary.
Lugar, the most senior Republican member of the Senate, is running next year for a seventh term in office. He's been criticized by many Tea Party activists and other grass-roots conservatives for his willingness to work with Senate Democrats to seek bipartisan solutions, for his votes in favor of President Obama's Supreme Court nominees the past two years, and for his 2008 vote in favor of the Troubled Asset Relief Program, better known as TARP. They were also upset with him for his early public openness last year to vote in favor of the New Strategic Arms Reduction Treaty (New START) with Russia.
The 79 year old lawmaker was first elected to the Senate in 1976 after serving as mayor of Indianapolis. Lugar did not face a primary challenge in 2006 and won 87 percent of the vote in the general election, facing only a libertarian candidate.
The winner of the May 8, 2012 GOP primary would likely be considered the favorite to win the general election.
–Follow Paul Steinhauser on Twitter: @psteinhausercnn