FreedomWorks to Endorse Bennett Primary Challenger in Utah

Posted February 18, 2010 at 10:14am

Former Majority Leader Dick Armey (R-Texas) and the conservative organization that he heads is about to paint a very large target on the back of Sen. Bob Bennett (R-Utah).

FreedomWorks’ political action committee is set to announce that it will endorse Bennett’s primary challenger, Mike Lee, a former gubernatorial general counsel and the son of former U.S. Solicitor General Rex Lee. Mike Lee entered the Senate primary in early January.

The announcement is set to take place at 1 p.m. today after Armey makes an address at the Conservative Political Action Conference, which kicks off today.

The decision by Armey and FreedomWorks — which has become a major financial engine of the “tea party” movement — to get involved in the Utah Senate race is another blow to Bennett, who has become a target of conservative groups who have painted him as a “Republican in name only.”

Last month the powerful anti-tax group the Club for Growth announced it would work to keep Bennett from being re-elected.

FreedomWorks and the Club for Growth are now expected to be major players leading up to the Utah nominating convention in May. Under Utah’s party convention format, a candidate can avoid a primary by earning 60 percent of the delegate vote at the convention. If that doesn’t happen, the top two finishers face off in a June primary.

By wading into the Utah race, Armey is also going up against former Speaker Newt Gingrich (R-Ga.), who earlier this month endorsed Bennett. The two former party leaders were also on opposite sides of an interparty battle last year in the special election in New York’s 23rd district.