Ted Cruz endorses Iowa House challenger

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Texas Sen. Ted Cruz is making an early bet on a Republican House challenger in Iowa, flexing his political muscle in the first-in-the-nation caucus state he won during the 2016 GOP presidential nominating contest.

Cruz is endorsing Nicole Hasso, an Iowa financial planner who is running against Democratic Rep. Cindy Axne, a second-term congresswoman who Republicans are aggressively targeting in 2022. In a video to be released Thursday, Cruz praises Hasso as an “outsider who will take on the Washington swamp and will help fight back against the left’s extremist agenda.”

It's part of a broader push for the senator in Iowa, which is poised to host the first Republican presidential contest again in 2024. Cruz, a potential 2024 candidate, is also hosting an August fundraiser for GOP Rep. Ashley Hinson, who represents a northeastern Iowa-based district.

Iowa is already drawing a stampede of Republican presidential hopefuls. Former Vice President Mike Pence, former Secretary of State Mike Pompeo and South Dakota Gov. Kristi Noem all attended an event hosted by The Family Leader, a socially conservative organization. Former U.N. Ambassador Nikki Haley spoke at an Iowa GOP Lincoln Dinner. Arkansas Sen. Tom Cotton is expected to appear in the state this month.

Cruz has endorsed seven candidates so far this election cycle, though Hasso is the first from an early nominating state

The Texan finished first in the 2016 Iowa caucuses, fueled partly by his appeal to evangelicals. Cruz, who would ultimately be the runner-up to Donald Trump for the GOP nomination, has made clear he is open to waging another bid for the presidency: During a July appearance on Newsmax, he said he was “considering” a 2024 run.

Cruz has been keeping up an intense fundraising pace, even though he isn’t on the ballot in 2022. During the second quarter of this year, he raised more than $4.6 million, the second-most of any Republican senator. He raised $3.6 million during the first quarter, a period which coincided with his high-profile objection to the certification of the Electoral College votes formalizing President Joe Biden's election win.

Like Cruz, other potential 2024 candidates are diving into House races. The group includes Haley and Pompeo, who have set up leadership PACs allowing them to contribute to congressional candidates.

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