Continuing its trend of backing conservative candidates over more traditional Republican politicians, the anti-tax group Club for Growth announced today it is opposing the re-election of three-term GOP Sen. Bob Bennett of Utah.
"Bob Bennett is out of touch with the times and with his state, and Utah Republicans have better choices for their candidate in November," Club President Chris Chocola said in a statement, which can be found on the group's web site. "Our extensive research suggests Utah Republicans already understand this, as they have begun rallying around several viable and superior candidates," Chocola said.
The group has not yet specified whom it would support instead of Bennett, but the senator currently has four Republican challengers, according to the Deseret News: attorney Mike Lee, entrepreneur Tim Bridgewater, businesswoman Cherilyn Eagar and small businessman James Russell Williams III.
Chocola said in his statement that Bennett's record, including his "disastrous plan for a federal health care takeover" and his vote for the Troubled Asset Relief Program, is "part of the problem in Washington."
Bennett worked with Sen. Ron Wyden, a Democrat from Oregon, to produce the Healthy Americans Act (commonly referred to as the "Wyden-Bennett bill"), a health care proposal that gained approval from both Democrats and Republicans. The bill never made it out of committee, but it was commonly referenced during the past year's ongoing health care debate. The Club for Growth spent $90,000 in radio ads last year to attack the bill, the Deseret News reports.
While he has long advocated for his bipartisan solution for health care, Bennett earlier this week told a town hall audience that Republican opposition to the current Democratic plan will help the GOP win up to seven Senate seats this year, the Salt Lake Tribune reports.
"Tea partiers" and other conservative activists stood in front of the health care "tank" Democrats are driving, Bennett reportedly said, whileRepublican senators "were around the back of the tank, screwing off the gas cap and pouring sand in and loosening a lug nut here and putting a spike in there."
The Club for Growth has also decided to oppose Florida's GOP Gov. Charlie Crist in his Senate bid, instead supporting underdog Marco Rubio. The group also stirred controversy among Republicans by backing conservative Doug Hoffman against the Republican-backed candidate in a special election for New York's 23rd District. The Democrat ultimately beat Hoffman, after the GOP candidate dropped out of the race days before the election.