Conservative groups back Hall's primary foe

The conservative national groups Club for Growth and The Madison Project are backing former U.S. Attorney John Ratcliffe (R) in his race against Rep. Ralph Hall (R-Texas), giving him a boost with a national network of conservative donors.

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Ratcliffe has already forced a runoff against Hall, Congress's oldest member, and has a big cash advantage over him heading into the second round of voting in late May.

"John Ratcliffe is a constitutional conservative who will champion economic freedom and individual liberty in Congress," Club for Growth President Chris Chocola said in a statement. "Like Senator Ted Cruz, John Ratcliffe understands that the big spenders in both parties have led us to $17 trillion in debt, and he'll stand up for pro-growth policies in Washington."

Ratcliffe has been running to Hall's right in the race, and told The Hill that he hopes Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio) won't run for another term. Still, the race has been mostly focused on whether Hall is still able to do the job rather than ideology.

"After getting to know Mr. Ratcliffe, it isn’t surprising that he is shaking up the political system. He is a genuine conservative public servant who has pledged term-limits and has a strong record that stands behind his campaign promises," said Madison Project Political Director Drew Ryun. "He is the perfect candidate to fill the void within the Republican Party to fight against an increasingly imperial federal executive and a lawless administration that encourages illegal immigration."

The groups' endorsements could help shore up his conservative credentials and gain him more attention outside the district, though funding isn't a problem for him — Ratcliffe has been able to self-fund much of his campaign. Endorsing Ratcliffe also gives the groups the chance to back a candidate who's got a strong chance of winning.

Ratcliffe is also being backed by Now or Never PAC, which is on the air hitting the 90-year-old Hall on his age.

—This post was updated at 9:45 a.m.