FreedomWorks Backs Three Upstarts for Open House Seats

FreedomWorks announced its support for three upstart Republican House candidates today, pitting the conservative grass-roots group against local elected officials in each state.

The group endorsed Public Service Commissioner Kevin Cramer in North Dakota's at-large seat; Lewis County Judge Executive Thomas Massie in Kentucky's 4th district; and former state Sen. Sam Aanestad in California's 1st district.

All three candidates are running in open-seat races. FreedomWorks' support is notable because it's backing the underdogs in each race and, in one case, going against the state party's endorsement.

In North Dakota, the state GOP endorsed Public Service Commissioner Brian Kalk at its convention last month. Cramer opted to challenge Kalk outside the convention system, forcing the two to run in a rare contested primary on June 12.

In Kentucky, Massie faces two candidates with establishment backing: state Rep. Alecia Webb-Edgington and Boone County Judge Executive Gary Moore. Retiring Rep. Geoff Davis (R) and former Kentucky Sen. Jim Bunning (R) endorsed Webb-Edgington. Massie also has been endorsed by Sen. Rand Paul (R-Ky.).

In California, the PAC is backing Aanestad in the "jungle primary" for the open 1st district, a safe Republican seat. Aanestad faces state Sen. Doug LaMalfa, who has the backing of 12 Members of Congress, including Majority Whip Kevin McCarthy (Calif.), National Republican Congressional Committee Deputy Chairman Greg Walden (Ore.) and Rep. Wally Herger (Calif.), who is retiring from the seat.

The trio joins the stable of 10 House candidates with FreedomWorks' backing this cycle.

Joshua Miller and Kyle Trygstad contributed to this report.