The conservative Club for Growth is mulling over backing a possible primary rival to Arizona Sen. John McCain as two tea party-leaning congressmen both consider challenging him next year.
The group’s president, David McIntosh, told The Hill
that he is staying on top of the situation after it emerged that Arizona GOP Reps. David Schweikert and Matt Salmon are eyeing a challenge to the establishment senator.
"In Arizona, we will watch that carefully. We'll look at (McCain’s) record and his score," said McIntosh during a Tuesday breakfast sponsored by the Christian Science Monitor
He said that Salmon and Schweikert are "people the Club's supported and thinks well of in Congress," and hinted that one of them may "decide to enter the race."
He continued, "We'll do research including polling and determine, is there a path to victory and is the money well spent? And by a path to victory, some institutions only engage in things when they're 90 percent sure (they) will lead to victory.
"The Club is willing to take greater risk. So that'll be an assessment we do in Arizona if the race materializes."
McCain, who was the 2008 GOP presidential candidate, has been often criticized by the group for his political views
, which it deems as not conservative enough.
The senator has also found himself in conflict with his two potential rivals from the House, who both beat opponents McCain had endorsed in the primaries.
Salmon and Schweikert said that they would not run against each other in a primary for the Senate next year.
"If Matt came to me and said he wants to pull the trigger, it would mean we would probably offer to chair his committee," Schweikert told The Hill.
Although 78-year-old McCain has not yet officially decided whether he will run again next year, he’s been busy raising cash and crisscrossing the state, while also trying oust conservatives from leading positions in state party politics, according to The Hill.
And his spokesman Brian Rogers says, "Sen. McCain is strongly leaning toward running for reelection. In the meantime, he’s taking all the necessary steps to be in the strongest position possible when he makes a final decision."
Club for Growth is a powerful fiscal conservative force in GOP primaries, and helped elect Republican Sens. Marco Rubio of Florida, Rand Paul of Kentucky and Ted Cruz of Texas, who are now all prospective presidential candidates.
But McIntosh told The Hill that it was unlikely to get involved in the presidential primary, saying, "If history repeats itself we won't be endorsing a candidate for president."
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