Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell and some conservative groups are likely to square-off against each other as they decide which candidates to back in the 2018 Republican primaries, The Hill is reporting.
The Kentucky Republican expects to play a major role in deciding which Republicans will take on vulnerable Democrats in 2018. Democrats will be defending 23 seats to just eight for the GOP as Republicans try to increase their majority in Congress
"We intend to play in primaries if there's a clear choice between someone who can win in November and someone who can't," McConnell said earlier this month.
But conservative groups are vowing to back candidates who will move the party further to the right.
"We're looking for viable conservative candidates, and our supporters don't care whether the GOP establishment ultimately supports them or not," said Ken Cuccinelli, president of the Senate Conservatives Fund, which supports Ohio Treasurer Josh Mandel as the Republican candidate against Democratic Sen. Sherrod Brown
And the Citizens United Political Victory Fund, another key conservative group, has endorsed Mandel, The Plain Dealer newspaper in Cleveland reported.
"I am proud to have earned the support of Citizens United and other conservative groups across the country," Mandel said.
However, it is uncertain whether Republicans in Washington will back Mandel, The Hill noted.
Rep. Pat Tiberi, R-Ohio, has $6.3 million in campaign funds and could be viewed as a stronger candidate by Washington Republicans, website said.
But that won't impact conservative support for Mandel.
"Sometimes the establishment comes around to support our candidates, and sometimes they don't," Cuccinelli said. "But our criteria won't change."
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