The Washington Times - January 3, 2012, 02:22PM

The Club for Growth’s political arms on Tuesday launched a media attack against three moderate Republican congressional candidates in battleground states, accusing them of failing to live up to the influential group’s conservative fiscal principles.

Club for Growth Action is running television advertisements against House Energy and Commerce Committee Chairman Fred Upton of Michigan and Texas Lt. Gov. David Dewhurst, who is running for U.S. Senate. Club for Growth PAC also is airing TV spots against GOP Rep. Tim Murphy of Pennsylvania.

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The ads will run for about two weeks and collectively cost more than $500,000.

Club for Growth officials have blasted Mr. Upton for his support of the Wall Street bailout in 2008 and for his vote this summer to raise the federal debt ceiling. A 30-second aid airing in Mr. Upton’s western Michigan district calls him “liberal.”

“Michigan Republicans can do better than a congressman who has consistently voted to balloon the size of our already bloated government,” said Club for Growth President Chris Chocola. “After 25 years of Fred Upton and his liberal policies, it’s time for a change.”

Club for Growth Action is launching two 15-second TV spots in Texas accusing Mr. Dewhurst of supporting higher taxes and an expansion of the state’s participation in federal government-sponsored health care. The Club for Growth PAC has endorsed primary rival Ted Cruz, a former Texas solicitor general, for the seat held by retiring Republican Sen. Kay Bailey Hutchison.

In Pennsylvania, Club for Growth PAC ads slammed Mr. Murphy for his support of legislation that would make it easier for unions to organize new chapters and for “billions in wasteful earmark spending.”

“Tim Murphy owes his constituents an explanation,” Mr. Chocola said.

The group, whose endorsements have proven potent in past GOP primary contests, hasn’t been shy in the past to criticize Republicans it pegs as too liberal. The group in December accused Senate candidate Tommy Thompson of Wisconsin — a former Badger State governor and a Health and Human Services secretary under President George W. Bush — of supporting President Obama’s health care reforms and pro-union causes.