A Washington-based conservative group that spent millions helping Ted Cruz win his first Senate race is pledging support for the senator’s re-election — citing a tougher-than-expected race against Democrat Beto O’Rourke.
Club for Growth president David McIntosh said in a statement Monday that his group “was honored to be among the first to endorse” Cruz in 2012. Six years later, said McIntosh, the senator’s “strong voice for fiscal sanity is needed now more than ever before.”
In an interview with the Star-Telegram in April, McIntosh said the Club was concerned about O’Rourke’s fundraising, and weighing whether Cruz would need their help in his first re-election race.
“We’re watching the Cruz race, we endorsed him before…we assumed he would have an easy layup for re-election,” McIntosh said at the time. “With Beto’s fundraising, we’re looking at that.”
McIntosh said in April the group had not yet endorsed Cruz for re-election “because we didn’t need to.”
“But now, it’s looking like it could help him to have that endorsement and we would very much want to be there for him,” said McIntosh.
O’Rourke, a third-term congressman, raised $6.7 million in the first quarter of 2018. Cruz raised $3.2 million in the same period.
The Club spent roughly $5 million to help Cruz defeat fellow Republican David Dewhurst in a Senate primary in 2012. Cruz’s win was considered a major upset of the GOP establishment.
In the most recent election cycle, however, the group focused its resources on Senate races that were competitive in the general election, as well as less expensive House primaries. It shelled out millions opposing then-candidate Donald Trump in the 2016 presidential primary, before endorsing him in the general election.
A Quinnipiac University poll conducted at the end of May found Cruz leading O’Rourke 50 percent to 39 percent. A survey conducted for some of O’Rourke’s Democratic allies at the beginning of June found a closer race, with Cruz leading O’Rourke 49 to 43 percent.
The Club bundles money for candidates from its national donor base. Its super PAC also spends money on campaign ads, and reported roughly $9 million in its campaign account as of April 30.
O’Rourke is not accepting PAC money for his campaign, and has asked super PACs not to spend on his behalf.
Twenty seven of the Club’s 275 large donors live in Texas. The rest live out of state, including Illinois superdonor Richard Uihlein, who contributed $5 million to the Club’s super PAC this cycle.
The Club for Growth spent big to help a handful of Texas congressional candidates in their primaries this spring. Its candidates won four out of five races.