The conservative Club for Growth is looking to once again wield its influence in key Senate races, but it is still evaluating some of the top contests as candidates weigh running.
So far the Club has endorsed three Senate contenders: Florida Sen. Rick Scott plus two non-incumbents, Indiana Rep. Jim Banks and West Virginia Rep. Alex Mooney. The group had previously signaled it could back Montana Rep. Matt Rosendale if he jumps into the race, but Club for Growth president David McIntosh appeared to temper those expectations during a Monday night briefing with reporters.
“Matt has not yet decided whether to run,” McIntosh said. “If he does, we’re going to take a close look at that race and figure out what the best answer is.”
McIntosh did say the group thinks “enormously” of Rosendale, who lost to Democratic Sen. Jon Tester in 2018. But the group had also met with Republican Tim Sheehy, a former Navy SEAL who has endorsements from National Republican Senatorial Committee Chairman Steve Daines, R-Mont., and other prominent Montana Republicans. McIntosh said Sheehy was “an impressive candidate.”
The Club for Growth is also still reviewing other races where the fields are still developing, including contests in Michigan and Wisconsin.
“We’ll look at the candidates and see, but … nobody is emerging as a strong candidate,” McIntosh said, noting other states are more competitive battlegrounds for Republicans, including West Virginia, Ohio, Montana, Nevada and Arizona, and potentially Pennsylvania.
In Ohio, McIntosh said the group has interviewed Secretary of State Frank LaRose and businessman Bernie Moreno, but was not likely to weigh in on the race, saying neither candidate fits the group’s “pro-growth” platform.
The GOP fields are also still developing in Nevada and Arizona, But McIntosh did describe Army veteran Sam Brown, who is running against Nevada Democratic Sen. Jacky Rosen, as “very impressive.”
So far the group’s main battle is in West Virginia, where Mooney is facing GOP Gov. Jim Justice in the primary to take on Democratic Sen. Joe Manchin, who has not yet said if he is running for re-election. Manchin has also not ruled out a run for president on a third-party, No Labels ticket.
Justice has Daines’ backing as well, setting up a clash between the Club and GOP leaders. The Club had previously committed to spend $10 million to boost Mooney in the primary, and announced earlier this month that Club for Growth Action and Protect Freedom PAC, a super PAC tied to Sen. Rand Paul, R-Ky., raised a combined $13.6 million to support Mooney in the race.
The Club has clashed with Senate leadership — and former President Donald Trump — in past Senate primaries. And although the Club for Growth is not supporting Trump in the presidential primary, McIntosh said its candidates are free to support the former president. Mooney, for example, endorsed Trump back in November.
“That’s not a litmus test for us,” McIntosh said.
Further down the ballot, the Club is also looking to influence House races. The group announced Monday that it is launching a “Patriot 20” program, pledging to spend $20 million to support the 20 GOP House members who did not support Kevin McCarthy’s speakership bid.
In total, McIntosh said the group is looking to surpass its spending on the 2022 midterms, which eclipsed $146 million.