Politics

Cruz-Aligned Group Endorses McConnell Challenger

(Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

Senate Conservatives Fund, a group Sen. Ted Cruz helped raise money for by appearing in an anti-Obamacare ad, has for the second time in two days endorsed a challenger to a Republican senator — this time the minority leader of the Senate.

The move was not surprising — the Jim DeMint-founded group announced Friday that it will support Louisville businessman Matt Bevin's uphill primary battle against Sen. Mitch McConnell, R-Ky. On Thursday, the SCF endorsed state Sen. Chris McDaniel's primary challenge to Sen. Thad Cochran, R-Miss.

The endorsements are the latest addition to an increasingly awkward position for Cruz, the Texas Republican who serves as a vice chairman of the National Republican Senatorial Committee, which supports all incumbents, including McConnell.

for Cruz, the Texas Republican who serves as a vice chairman of the National Republican Senatorial Committee, which supports all incumbents, including McConnell.The SCF and Bevin both slammed McConnell on Wednesday, after he helped craft a deal with Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nev., to reopen the government, which was shut down for more than two weeks in part because of Cruz's fruitless effort to defund the president's health care law. The conservative group said in a statement that it believes Bevin would join Cruz in that fight if elected.

"He is not afraid to stand up to the establishment, and he will do what it takes to stop Obamacare," SCF Executive Director Matt Hoskins said.

The group aired TV ads on Cruz's behalf in 2012, when he won the GOP primary and went on to win an open seat. But it also supported then-Rep. Todd Akin, R-Mo., who lost one of the GOP's top pickup opportunities last year against Sen. Claire McCaskill, D-Mo.

The McConnell campaign referenced that in its response to the endorsement.

"Matt Bevin now has the dubious honor of standing with a self-serving D.C. fundraising group that made its name by recruiting and promoting unelectable candidates that ensured Barack Obama a majority in the Senate," McConnell spokeswoman Allison Moore said.

The primary winner will likely go on to face Kentucky Secretary of State Alison Lundergan Grimes in the general election.