McConnell allies form group to defend Senate

Story highlights

  • Allies of Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell are launching a super PAC focused on Senate races
  • Their aim is to keep the Senate in GOP hands as Republicans face a tough map for 2016
  • The group will coordinate with American Crossroads, another GOP super PAC

(CNN)Republican operatives linked to Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell have launched a new super PAC focused on keeping the Senate in GOP hands in 2016, when they'll face a much tougher map and a political climate that favors Democrats.

The new super PAC, called the Senate Leadership Fund, will work with American Crossroads, another major GOP super PAC, to defend Republican-held seats and help nominate the most electable candidates in primaries to contest Democratic-held seats, according to a source familiar with the group's plans.
The source said the group will operate largely in general election and open-seat primary battles, but may also engage in defense of incumbents facing primary challenges.
    American Crossroads will also be heavily engaged in the GOP presidential general election fight, and Republicans will have 24 seats to defend in 2016 — far more than the 10 Democrats must defend, and many in blue-leaning or purple states that are more favorable to Democrats in a presidential year.
    Senate Leadership Fund will aim to pick up some of the slack at the Senate level, and will coordinate messaging, media buys and fundraising with American Crossroads. Stephen Law, McConnell's former chief of staff who currently heads up American Crossroads, will also sit on the board of the Senate Leadership Fund.
    "The U.S. Senate is under new management — and is taking on President Obama's freedom-constricting, big-government agenda," the group's website says. "As a new, independent super PAC, the Senate Leadership Fund has one goal: to protect and expand the Republican Senate majority when Harry Reid, Elizabeth Warren and their army of left-wing activists try to take it back in 2016."
    According to the New York Times, which first reported news of the group's creation, McConnell and his allies have conceived of the group as an answer to the Senate Majority PAC, the Democratic super PAC launched by operatives with ties to Senate Minority Leader Harry Reid that engaged heavily in Senate races this past cycle.