Lawmaker who sought to oust Boehner endorses Cruz

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Rep. Mark Meadows, the North Carolina Republican who led the charge to oust former Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio) last year, is endorsing Ted CruzTed CruzTrump enters new debate frontier Pence offers Cruz 'heartfelt thanks' for Trump endorsement Cruz: Trump hasn't apologized for personal insults MORE for president.

The endorsement from Meadows, one of the founding members of the conservative House Freedom Caucus, comes just a few days before the Iowa caucuses, where Cruz is fighting for first place against his chief rival, Donald Trump.

Meadows called the Texas senator a "principled, conservative leader" who's willing to buck the establishment.

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"On issue after issue, Cruz has told the truth and done what he said he was going to do. It may not make him a lot of friends in Washington, but it is exactly what the American people expect of their leaders," Meadows said in a statement.

Meadows last year authored a resolution known as a motion to vacate the chair, which if brought up for consideration would have forced a referendum vote on then-Speaker Boehner's leadership. 

Meadows introduced the measure last July after he was temporarily stripped of his subcommittee gavel on the House Oversight panel as retribution for voting against a procedural rule on President Obama's trade agenda. His subcommittee chairmanship was reinstated a few days later following outcry from conservatives.

His resolution never came up for a vote, but the threat of drama playing out on the House floor had a role in pushing Boehner toward retirement midway through the 114th Congress.

Not a single fellow senator has endorsed Cruz. But the Texas Republican has several endorsements from House conservatives with whom he has joined forces during debates such as the 2013 government shutdown.

Lawmakers in the roughly 30-member House Freedom Caucus have not rallied around a single candidate for president. The handful of members who have endorsed a candidate are largely split between Cruz and Rand Paul.

Trump, meanwhile, still does not have any endorsements from Capitol Hill Republicans.

Other Freedom Caucus members who have endorsed Cruz include Reps. Jim Bridenstine (Okla.), Mo Brooks (Ala.), Ken Buck (Colo.), Paul Gosar (Ariz.), Jody Hice (Ga.), Alex Mooney (W.Va.) and Randy Weber (Texas).