First on CNN: Ted Cruz Super PACs target Oklahoma, Missouri, Kansas

Story highlights

  • The Super PACs backing Ted Cruz are organized under the "Keep The Promise" umbrella label
  • Keep the Promise is opening a Midwest outpost to organize in Oklahoma, Missouri, Kansas and a few other to-be-determined states
  • Oklahoma and Missouri vote on March 1, and Kansas votes just four days later

(CNN)The well-funded super PACs backing Ted Cruz are extending their footprint into the heartland, beginning a major push Tuesday to win three early March states where Cruz hopes to amass a lead in delegates.

Keep the Promise, a constellation of four super PACs that has spent very little of its tens of millions so far, is opening a Midwest outpost to organize in Oklahoma, Missouri, Kansas and a few other to-be-determined states, spokeswoman Laura Barnett told CNN on Tuesday.
The group has hired two Oklahoma operatives, Philip Jackson and Holly Gerard, to lead the effort. The pair of strategists will focus on mobilizing volunteers and organizing political coalitions in the Midwest.
Despite their fundraising success, the groups were initially slow to build a professional political operation to steer the dollars. After a behind-the-scenes replacement of the groups' leader this summer, Keep the Promise has slowly beefed up its shop, recently adding a senior fundraiser at the National Rifle Association, Campbell Smith, and a top operative at the Madison Project, Drew Ryun.
    While the groups have also kicked off large field programs in Iowa and South Carolina, this is the Cruz super PACs' first regional effort. The Keep the Promise groups have come under criticism -- including from some high-level Cruz supporters -- for putting little of the $38 million it raised in the first half of 2015 on television.
    The Cruz campaign believes it is well positioned to win in Oklahoma and Missouri, two states that vote March 1. Cruz will return to Oklahoma later this month for two events, and his campaign manager, Jeff Roe, is a longtime Missouri-based operative. The campaign or super PACs have so far not paid as much attention to Kansas, which votes four days later.
    "As Sen. Ted Cruz is rising in polls nationwide, we are excited to establish and build support for him," said David Barton, the head of the super PACs, in a statement. "Americans know one of the strengths of our great nation is in the ideals held by Midwesterners."