The NRSC’s handpicked candidate in Indiana has hit some big obstacles on what he hoped would be a coronation in the GOP primary. After a disappointing fundraising haul, he’s refused to comply with Senate ethics rules by not submitting his financial disclosure forms. And now he’s now facing a surge by grassroots candidate Marlin Stutzman who has raised over $160,000 in just a few days and is up all over the state with an effective ad. So where does a Washington lobbyist like Coats go in his time of need? Where everybody knows his name. In the final week of the campaign, Coats is running away from Indiana voters, and running to his DC lobbyist friends in a desperate dash for cash.

…at separate fundraising events tomorrow morning in Washington as [Coats] seeks to bolster his financial standing in advance of a May 4 primary fight. Both events will be held at the Caucus Room — a restaurant co-founded by Mississippi Gov. Haley Barbour — with the entrance fee set at $1,000 for individuals and $2,500 for political action committees.Coats, who served a decade in the Senate before retiring in 1998, put together a surprisingly weak fundraising quarter — collecting just $379,000 in the first three months of the year. While that total was more than either former Rep. John Hostettler (R) or state Sen. Marlin Stutzman (R) raked in, it was far from the sort of total that put the GOP nomination squarely in Coats’ hands. (Stutzman’s endorsement from South Carolina Sen. Jim DeMint came after the March 31 first quarter deadline but should significantly improve the conservative favorite’s cash flow.)

Predictably, Democrats are salivating over the prospect of running against a Coats.

Coats’ post-Senate background as a corporate lobbyist and his long absence from everyday Indiana life are hurdles he’ll have to surmount… “While Coats would have to begin the race — assuming he wins the nomination — as the favorite, I think this is one of those races that is likely to go down to the wire,” said Chris Sautter, a Democratic consultant from Indiana….Democrats counter that Coats will be in no position to criticize Ellsworth on curbing Wall Street excesses. The Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee has brandished Coats’ lobbying work for Bank for America, which received bailout money, as an example of him being a “Washington, D.C., insider.” Democrats also have noted that Coats hasn’t yet filed a personal disclosure form detailing the sources of his income…Ellsworth actually can boast a more conservative record on gun owners’ rights than Coats, who voted nearly two decades ago for a ban on some semiautomatic assault-style weapons as well as the Brady law that mandated a five-day waiting period for handgun purchases.In an early warning sign for Coats, the National Rifle Association has already distributed mailers criticizing his votes on gun issues. Coats said at the GOP debate that he is a supporter of the Second Amendment and would not support any additional restrictions on gun ownership.

As Indiana voters are saying, “We need a fresh face.” We need Marlin Stutzman.