The Club for Growth has not met with Rep. Shelley Moore Capito's new GOP opponent for Senate yet, but it's definitely interested in getting to know him better.
Chris Chocola, president of the deep-pocketed conservative group, reached out to former state Del. Pat McGeehan over Twitter on Tuesday — just hours after he announced that he's challenging Capito, the heavy GOP favorite in the race and a club target:
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(See also in Roll Call: Mixing Apples and Oranges in West Virginia)
Republicans view the open West Virginia Senate race as one of their best opportunities to pick up a seat this cycle. Sen. Jay Rockefeller, D-W.Va., has announced he will retire at the end of this term.
National Republicans see Capito as a strong candidate, but the club doesn't care much for her policies. Back in November, they targeted her within hours of her campaign announcement, charging, "Is Shelley Moore Capito the 'right' kind of Republican U.S. Senate Candidate?"
But conservatives, including the club, have had trouble finding a GOP challenger for her since that initial salvo.
Also, it's unclear just how much of a threat McGeehan can pose to Capito. She's also a prolific fundraiser and well-known throughout the state.
(See also in Roll Call: West Virginia: Capito Raises $915,000 for Senate Bid)
Meanwhile, many national conservatives — even those who do not approve of Capito's candidacy — had not even researched McGeehan yet.
"We haven't interviewed or vetted McGeehan so I can't say at this point whether we could support him or not, but as you know we are very interested in finding a strong, conservative candidate to support in this race," Senate Conservatives Fund Executive Director Matt Hoskins wrote in an email to CQ Roll Call. "Republicans in West Virginia deserve a candidate who shares their values."
McGeehan recently lost a race for state Senate, according to the Mountain State television ABC affiliate WCHS.
Democrats continue to search for a candidate following Rockefeller's retirement. Possible contenders include attorneys Nick Preservati and Ralph Baxter. Also, Rep. Nick J. Rahall II, D-W.Va., indicated he is interested in running but has yet to announce a final decision about the race.