NPR — Conservatives have found their candidate for one of 2016′s most important Senate races: Florida Congressman Ron DeSantis.
Soon after he launched his bid Wednesday, a trifecta of deep-pocketed Tea Party-aligned groups the Senate Conservatives Fund, the Club for Growth and FreedomWorks all signaled they would back the two-term congressman in his bid to succeed Sen. Marco Rubio, R-Fla., who’s running for president.
Florida is an important state in 2016 for many reasons. It will not only be a crucial part of any White House campaign, but it will also be critical in the battle for control of the Senate. While Republicans won the majority in 2014, two years later they will find themselves almost entirely on defense, defending 24 seats several in blue-leaning states President Obama carried compared to the just 10 Democrats are defending. Democrats need to flip just five seats to take back the Senate.
So with few GOP primaries where they can make a mark, the trio of conservatives groups quickly circled their wagons around DeSantis, who won a competitive GOP primary for a new seat in 2012. The race sets up what could become the most important Tea Party versus establishment clash next year.