05/22/2012 03:07 pm ET Updated May 22, 2012

Tom Cotton, Club for Growth Favorite, Leading Arkansas Republican House Primary

Army reservist Tom Cotton appears positioned to defeat Beth Anne Rankin, an aide to former-Gov. Mike Huckabee (R), in Tuesday's House Republican Primary in Arkansas. If he does, it will be a victory for the fiscally conservative Club for Growth, a Cotton campaign backer and longtime Huckabee foe.

Rankin, a onetime Miss Arkansas, was the GOP standard bearer in the 2010 race against Rep. Mike Ross (D), who is retiring this year. Although Rankin has the support of Huckabee in her repeat run this year, she hasn't been able to raise the money she needs to tout the connection.

The Club's network of donors, meanwhile, has raised more than $1 million to fund television ads for Cotton across Arizona's fourth congressional district, providing him with the edge he needed to overtake Rankin in the polls.

An April poll by Hendrix College showed Cotton with an 18-point lead over Rankin, up from a virtual tie in a poll taken last May, before any money had been spent on advertising.

The race in Arkansas marks just the most recent conflict between Huckabee allies and the Club, a grudge match that dates back as far as 2006. National Journal reports on its origins:

It's no secret that Huckabee and Club have had a tense relationship over the years. In 2006, when Huckabee, as governor of Arkansas, signed a minimum wage increase into law, the Club was critical of the move, and Huckabee, in turn, was reproachful. In 2008, the group continued to blast Huckabee during his presidential run.

The third candidate in the race is former Marine John Cowart (R). If the lead Republican candidate garners less than 50 percent of the vote on Tuesday night, the race will be decided in a runoff on June 12.

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