"Republicans in Virginia will be looking at that record," she said. "He actually added $3 trillion to the national debt, so technically we could be at $11 trillion right now instead of $14 trillion." 

Radtke was in Washington to attend the kick-off meeting of the Senate Tea Party Caucus, headed by GOP Sens. Jim DeMint (S.C.), Rand PaulRandal (Rand) Howard PaulHillicon Valley: Mueller delivers report, ending investigation | FEMA exposed info of 2.3M disaster survivors | Facebook asks judge to toss DC privacy lawsuit | Trump picks his first CTO | FCC settles lawsuit over net neutrality records Transparency advocate says government agencies face 'use it or lose it' spending Republicans need solutions on environment too MORE (Ky.) and Mike LeeMichael (Mike) Shumway LeeStop asking parents to sacrifice Social Security benefits for paid family leave The Hill's 12:30 Report: Trump hits media over New Zealand coverage GOP moves to rein in president's emergency powers MORE (Utah). 

DeMint told The Ballot Box on Thursday that he has spoken with both Radtke and Allen, but hasn't yet decided whether he would offer an endorsement in the primary. 

During the 2010 cycle, DeMint's Senate Conservatives Fund endorsed several Tea Party-backed candidates in competitive Senate primaries and helped raise more than $5 million for GOP Senate hopefuls.  

"It'll be interesting to see what happens," DeMint said, noting that he was "very impressed" by his conversation with Radtke, which occurred before she officially entered the race. "I've spoken to George Allen, too. He's a great friend." 

Radtke said Thursday that she would love to have DeMint's endorsement, but the two didn't cross paths at the caucus meeting. Radtke, who traveled from Richmond, Va., was delayed because of Wednesday's snowstorm, and DeMint left the gathering before she arrived.    

Virginia Republicans, meanwhile, say Allen is taking the primary very seriously. The former senator has already begun traversing the state, talking to activists and donors.  

"[The 2010 election] showed that a lot has changed since 2006 when George Allen last ran," said GOP strategist Ford O'Connell. "Candidates who once would have been written off as unelectable can upset the best laid plans of the party establishment in the primary."