The National Republican Liberty Caucus, which counts Tea Party-backed Sens. Rand PaulRand PaulTrump, GOP fumble chance to govern GOP senators pitch alternatives after House pulls ObamaCare repeal bill Rand Paul takes victory lap on GOP health bill MORE (R-Ky.), Ted CruzTed CruzHow 'Big Pharma' stifles pharmaceutical innovation AIPAC must reach out to President Trump Under pressure, Dems hold back Gorsuch support MORE (R-Texas) and Mike LeeMike LeeLawmakers signal fight for healthcare reform is not over Lee: Healthcare 'absolutely not' behind us GOP senators pitch alternatives after House pulls ObamaCare repeal bill MORE (R-Utah) among its endorsements, issued its first endorsement of the 2014 cycle for McGeehan.
“Pat McGeehan has shown leadership skills badly needed in the Senate," said RLC Chairman Matt Nye in a statement. "Receiving the Republican Liberty Caucus endorsement is a testament to his commitment to the principles of individual liberty, limited government, and free enterprise."
McGeehan is running as a conservative alternative to Capito, who was the first Republican to launch a run for retiring Sen. Jay RockefellerJay RockefellerObama to preserve torture report in presidential papers Lobbying world Overnight Tech: Senators place holds on FCC commissioner MORE's (D-W.Va.) seat.
Capito has establishment backing and a considerable war chest, but she's been criticized by conservatives for her votes on the auto bailout and debt ceiling increases, among other issues. She's received a lifetime score of 50 percent from the Club for Growth, and both the Club and the Senate Conservatives Fund, another far-right group, have expressed opposition to her bid.
Neither has yet endorsed McGeehan, however, waiting to see how his candidacy develops.
West Virginia's changing political landscape — it has become increasingly red over the past decade, and voted for Republican Mitt Romney with more than 60 percent in 2012 — makes it a prime opportunity for a GOP pickup.
But some Republicans have expressed concern that a conservative challenger winning the nomination over Capito could jeopardize GOP chances at the seat, fearful of a repeat of the same scenario that happened in states like Missouri and Indiana in 2012.
McGeehan said in a statement that he's "proud" of the endorsement and would support Paul and Cruz if elected.
“I am proud to have the support from the National Republican Liberty Caucus for my campaign for U.S. Senate,” stated McGeehan. “Our country must have real leadership who will stand with Senators Paul and Cruz, to tackle the National Debt before it’s too late. I am that candidate.”
--This story has been corrected to reflect Capito's voting record.