Armey endorses conservative primary challenger to Bennett

Former House Majority Leader Dick Armey (R-Texas) has endorsed a Republican primary challenger to Sen. Robert Bennett (Utah).

Armey announced his support for Mike Lee on Thursday at the CPAC conference in Washington, a gathering of movement conservatives and Tea Pary activists.

Armey, chairman of Freedom Works, a conservative advocacy group, called Bennett's record in the Senate disappointing and called for his ouster.

"Certainly the incumbent, Sen. Bennett, has given us our pause over the course of the past few years," Armey said. "We've had one disappointing vote after another."

Conservatives such as Erick Erickson, editor-in-chief of have also called for Bennett's defeat because of they view as his centrist record in the Senate.

Bennett angered conservatives by voting for the Wall Street bailout package in the fall of 2008.

Lee is running to the right of Bennett and has challenged the incumbent lawmaker, a member of the Senate Appropriations Committee, to support a one-year moratorium on earmarks.

"I believe our federal government is too big and too expensive and plays far too much of a role in our lives," Lee told reporters at CPAC.

Lee said the most of the Senate Republican Conference has lost sight of the importance of smaller government.

"We've got this large debt, about $13 trillion; a lot of it, more of that debt than I would like to admit as a Republican, was acquired when Republicans controlled Congress and much of it was acquired when Republicans controlled both Houses of Congress."

Matt Kibbe, the president of Freedom Works Political Action Committee, said Lee's defeat of Bennett would shift the ideological balance of Senate Republicans.

"We think guys like Mike are going to shift the center of gravity in the next U.S. Senate," said Kibbe.

Freedom Works PAC has also endorsed Marco Rubio in the Senate Republican primary and Rand Paul in the Kentucky Republican primary.