Outside Conservative Groups Plan to Defend Incumbents This Cycle

With their preferred candidates like Sen. Mike Lee already in office, FreedomWorks  and other Tea Party groups plan to focus this election cycle on defeating primary challenges from the left.

Reports Roll Call:

Five years ago, Mike Lee rode the anti-establishment wave and unseated Utah Sen. Robert F. Bennett, one of the first casualties of the tea party revolution.

This cycle, with Lee in the Senate, conservative outside groups — known in the past for provoking GOP primaries against incumbents — share a common goal with the National Republican Senatorial Committee in deflating primary challenges from Lee’s left and defending him in the general election.

“Our movement has to change,” FreedomWorks CEO Adam Brandon told CQ Roll Call. “We have to not just go on offensive, but be on defensive to protect our good guys.”

Likewise, the Club for Growth’s activities this year reflect the fact that many of its preferred candidates are already in office. Lee, Kentucky Sen. Rand Paul, South Carolina Sen. Tim Scott, Wisconsin Sen. Ron Johnson and Pennsylvania Sen. Patrick J. Toomey all earned the club’s endorsement last fall.