FreedomWorks endorses Johnson for Senate leadership position

The national Tea Party Group FreedomWorks endorsed Sen. Ron Johnson (Wis.) for Republican Conference vice chairman on Monday.

"Senator Johnson is a strong conservative leader and an experienced entrepreneur who can continue to build a fiscal conservative presence in the Senate," FreedomWorks President Matt Kibbe said in a statement. "Americans turned out in historic numbers for the 2010 midterm elections to vote for the ideas of lower taxes and limited government. It’s time to finally give a representative of these values a seat at the table."

Johnson, a Tea Party favorite, is running against Sen. Roy Blunt (Mo.), who has been described as a more mainstream Republican. Both were elected to the Senate in 2010. Blunt previously served as House Republican whip for six years of his 14 years in Congress. He also was the interim majority leader for a number of months after Rep. Tom DeLay (Texas) resigned.

Kibbe's endorsement seemed to present Blunt, who announced his candidacy last Tuesday, as the establishment Republican candidate.

"The decision boils down to a very simple question for Republicans in the Senate,” Kibbe said in his statement. "Are you comfortable voting for business as usual, or is it time for a fresh perspective in the Senate?"

Johnson jumped into the race for vice chairman shortly after Sen. Lamar Alexander (R-Tenn.) announced his decision to step down as Republican Senate Conference chairman, effective in January. Alexander's decision sparked a series of candidacies for newly vacant Republican leadership positions. Republican Policy Committee Chairman John Thune (S.D.) is campaigning to succeed Alexander, and conference Vice Chairman John Barrasso (Wyo.) is running to succeed Thune. 

Voting for the new Senate leadership is scheduled for Dec. 13.