Washington (CNN) – The nation's largest tea party political action committee will reveal Thursday the latest candidate to receive its blessing, the group's leaders told CNN.
The Tea Party Express will endorse attorney Clark Durant over former Rep. Pete Hoekstra in the Michigan Republican senate primary - a risky move that could snap the group's recent string of endorsement success. Though Durant has badly trailed Hoekstra in several recent polls, Express leaders will gather in Flint to announce their support of him.
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"Clark Durant is a Reagan conservative," Express Chairman Amy Kremer said. "The people are rallying around him. He's not a career politician."
The group's chief strategist Sal Russo called Durant a "real strong candidate" who is "more electable in Michigan."
Durant and Hoekstra, along with businessman and former judge Randy Hekman, will face off in an August 7 primary. The winner will go on to challenge two-term Democratic Sen. Debbie Stabenow.
The Express endorsement carries risks and could prove to be of little help.
First, it could split the tea party vote in Michigan. The Express, along with fellow national tea party backer FreedomWorks, support Durant. But former Republican presidential candidate Rick Santorum, Pennsylvania Sen. Pat Toomey and other well-known tea party figures have backed Hoekstra.
Also, five days before the primary vote may not provide the endorsement enough time to register with many voters. In the past, the Express' successful endorsements happened many months prior, giving the group and the endorsees time to capitalize through television and radio ads, on-the-ground volunteer efforts and rallies.
Major tea party support – including from the Express – helped former Texas Solicitor General Ted Cruz beat Republican establishment favorite Lt. Gov. David Dewhurst in their Texas GOP senate primary Tuesday. In May, tea party efforts helped Indiana State Treasurer Richard Mourdock beat Dick Lugar, the senate's longest-serving Republican, in the state's Republican senate primary.
But the Express missed the mark in another high-profile senate race. In the Nebraska GOP primary, the group endorsed Attorney General Jon Bruning, seen as the establishment pick, over State Treasurer Don Stenberg, seen as the tea party favorite. In the May primary neither man won, the race going to Nebraska State Sen. Deb Fischer. She will face off against Democrat Bob Kerrey, who formerly represented Nebraska in the senate.
The Express also helped propel conservative candidates in 2010 over their more moderate Republican opponents.
Polls show Hoekstra with double digit leads over Durant. A recent poll conducted for the Detroit Free Press showed Hoekstra up 24-points over Durant, a potentially insurmountable lead with only days before the vote.