Club for Growth Open to Spending in Indiana, Ohio and Florida

Club for Growth President Chris Chocola left the door open to investing resources into the Senate races of GOP candidates in Indiana, Florida and Ohio. (CQ/Roll Call File Photo)

Republican Senate nominees in Indiana, Florida and Ohio could get a needed cash infusion from the conservative Club for Growth before Election Day.

In an interview following this morning's Christian Science Monitor breakfast meeting with reporters, Club for Growth President Chris Chocola left the door open to investing resources into those three Senate races, where candidates endorsed by the cash-flush group continue to struggle in public polls.

"We're watching the race," Chocola said about Ohio and Florida. "We're raising money for both [Ohio Treasurer Josh] Mandel and [Florida Rep. Connie] Mack through bundling. If we think there is a message and a market where we can help, we will."

Chocola's comments come as several Republican Senate candidates are struggling in the polls, complicating GOP efforts to take control of the chamber next year. Republicans and third-party conservative groups are investing resources in top races in North Dakota, Maine and, most recently, Indiana.

Two weeks ago, the club invested $800,000 in television spots in Indiana to boost state Treasurer Richard Mourdock after a series of public polls showed him tied with Rep. Joe Donnelly (D). This week, the National Republican Senatorial Committee followed with its own substantial, weeklong buy. Senate Democrats are also spending there heavily.

Chocola, a former Indiana Congressman, described the Hoosier State race as "competitive" but expressed optimism that strong GOP performances in the presidential and gubernatorial races would boost Mourdock. The club backed Mourdock over Sen. Dick Lugar (R) in the primary, spending $1.7 million to push its endorsed candidate across the finish line.

Chocola said he didn't know yet if the club would make additional expenditures in Indiana.

"You look and see what's going on, and then you make decisions about whether you've done is enough or if you need to do more," Chocola said.

Looking ahead, the club signaled its desire to target Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.) in the 2014 cycle. Chocola told reporters that Graham's primary tops the club's list of Republican incumbents it would like to defeat if it can find the right challenger.

"The sun may rise over South Carolina," Chocola said. "Lindsey Graham does not fair well in our scorecards. He's not in line with our program's agenda, but we'll see what the race is."