Bolton Endorses 16 for Re-Election to Congress

Bolton Endorses 16 for Re-Election to Congress
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Former U.N. ambassador John Bolton has endorsed 16 Republican members of Congress for re-election this year, and his PAC will contribute the maximum amount of $5,000 to each of their campaigns.

The list includes seven senators: John McCain of Arizona, Mark Kirk of Illinois, Kelly Ayotte of New Hampshire, Rob Portman of Ohio, Ron Johnson of Wisconsin, Richard Burr of North Carolina and Pat Toomey of Pennsylvania. It also includes Rep. Joe Heck, who is running for Senate in Nevada for the seat of retiring Democratic Leader Harry Reid.

In the House, Bolton endorsed Reps. Martha McSally of Arizona; Mike Coffman of Colorado; Bob Dold of Illinois; Lee Zeldin, Elise Stefanik and John Katko of New York; Will Hurd of Texas; and Barbara Comstock of Virginia.

Bolton, an influential national security voice among Republican circles, served as U.S. ambassador to the United Nations under President George W. Bush. He said said he created the PAC for the 2014 midterm cycle as a way to promote candidates who are strong on national security, and that was the determining factor in the latest round of endorsements.

“Frankly, I’m trying to change the composition of the House and the Senate over time to defeat the conventional wisdom among political operatives that nobody cares about national security. I think that’s false,” Bolton told RealClearPolitics in an interview.

In the 2014 cycle, Bolton’s PAC and Super PAC raised more than $7.5 million, and he endorsed and contributed to 87 candidates. So far this cycle, he’s already raised around $7 million and said he hopes to triple his 2014 spending ahead of this year’s election. The current endorsements are much earlier than endorsements two years ago, Bolton said, and there will be more endorsements down the road, but he wanted to contribute to these candidates early in the cycle.

Six of the Senate candidates he endorsed – Kirk, Ayotte, Portman, Johnson, Toomey and Heck – are in races that are expected to be extremely close and will likely determine which party controls next year’s Senate, where Republicans currently have a four-seat majority. McCain is also facing one of his toughest re-election campaigns and has a primary challenger in Arizona State Sen. Kelli Ward. Democrats were bullish on challenging North Carolina’s Burr, but several of the top recruits declined to run against him.

The Cook Political Report lists the Coffman, Dold and Hurd races as toss-ups, while those of McSally, Zeldin and Katko are listed as leaning Republican. Comstock’s and Stefanik’s are listed likely Republican.

Bolton, who briefly flirted with running for president this year, said he has not endorsed in the Republican presidential primary yet, but “of course, I don’t rule it out. I think it’s possible.”

James Arkin is a congressional reporter for RealClearPolitics. He can be reached at jarkin@realclearpolitics.com. Follow him on Twitter @JamesArkin.

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