Club for Growth open to backing McConnell primary challenger

The Club for Growth on Wednesday said it is willing to back a primary challenger to Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnellMitch McConnellOvernight Healthcare: House loosens pesticide rules to fight Zika | A GOP bill that keeps some of ObamaCare | More proof of pending premium hikes Senate votes to block financial adviser rule Reid defends embattled VA secretary MORE (R-Ky.), shortly after Tea Party candidate Matt Bevin entered the race.

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“The Club for Growth PAC met with Matt Bevin many months ago, and we’d like to hear more about his candidacy and the differences between him and Senator McConnell on the issues,” Club for Growth President Chris Chocola said in a statement.

“The Club’s PAC will watch Kentucky’s Senate race – as it would with any race – over the coming months to determine if our involvement is warranted," he added.

It's the first overt indication the Club has given that it would be willing to engage in the Kentucky Senate race to defeat McConnell, who has received criticism from conservative organizations in the past, including the Club.

McConnell has worked to shore up support from his right flank, gaining the endorsement of Tea Party favorite Sen. Rand PaulRand PaulOvernight Defense: VA chief 'deeply' regrets Disney remark; Senate fight brews over Gitmo Paul ties release of 9/11 docs to defense bill Will Ted Cruz let it go? MORE (R-Ky.) and shifting to the right on policy issues in recent years.

But he retains a lifetime score of 74 percent on the Club's scorecard, and the group has continued to hammer him on various votes in the past few months. On Wednesday, Chocola also called for McConnell to sign a letter being circulated by Tea Party Sen. Mike LeeMike LeeSenate set for showdown over women in the draft Overnight Finance: Path clears for Puerto Rico bill | GOP senator casts doubt on IRS impeachment | Senate approves .1B for Zika Overnight Tech: Trade groups press NC on bathroom law MORE (R-Utah) pledging to defund ObamaCare.

Bevin's entry into the race was welcomed by a number of other conservative groups, two of which — the Senate Conservatives Fund and the Madison Project — indicated a willingness to support his candidacy.


Though McConnell remains vulnerable, according to polling that shows him unpopular in Kentucky, he's amassed a nearly $10-million war chest and hired a team of seasoned political consultants to aid his reelection fight.

Bevin will ultimately need financial and operational support from some of these conservative groups in order to orchestrate a credible challenge against McConnell.

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