Excerpt from an article by Christopher Peleo-Lazar in the National Journal:
Indiana’s laws for independent candidates are some of the toughest in the nation. In 2000, Ralph Nader did not reach the two percent threshold to get on the ballot, though Pat Buchanan did (Nader, running as a write-in, actually won more votes than Buchanan won for being on the ballot).
An independent bid would cost Lugar much more time and effort. If he opts for that path, state law requires he collect nominating petitions from a number of voters equal to two percent of the votes cast in the most recent election for Secretary of State. That means Lugar would need 34,195 signatures just to reach the ballot as an independent.
Lugar also has the option of pursuing the nomination from the Libertarian Party, if he abandons his GOP campaign before Feb. 27. Although the idea seems far-fetched considering Lugar’s political views — Indiana Libertarian Party executive director Chris Spangle doesn’t “see a world” where the scenario is possible — he wouldn’t need to go through a petition process. Lugar would have to win in a convention slated for a date in April 2012. Spangle isn’t counting on that. “I don’t see anything happening,” he said.
In the unlikely result that Lugar got the Libertarian nomination, he would still be placed in the “Minor Parties” category since the Libertarian Party didn’t break ten percent in the 2010 Secretary of State race.
At Ballot Access News, Richard Winger writes,
As the story explains, Lugar has not said he has any intent to do either of those things. But some polls have suggested that Lugar will have trouble winning the 2012 Republican primary.
Lugar will be 79 years old in a few weeks, and he has been in the Senate since 1976. No independent candidate for either Governor or U.S. Senator has ever appeared on a government-printed Indiana ballot. Indiana has a tradition of disinterest in independent candidates. No independent has been elected to the Indiana legislature since 1880. Indiana has a straight-ticket device, which injures independent candidates.
Similar speculation swirled around Senator Lisa Murkowski of Alaska last year when she lost her primary. She was ultimately re-elected as an independent write-in candidate.
Likewise, in 2006, Joe Lieberman was re-elected as a third party candidate with a new party he created after losing the Democratic primary, although he continued to caucus with the Democrats.