Sen. Mike Lee (R-Utah) (Joe Raedle/Getty Images)

RICHMOND — The first U.S. senator to endorse Sen. Ted Cruz for president is playing a role in Virginia politics.

U.S. Sen Mike Lee (R-Utah) on Tuesday will endorse attorney John Adams, a former federal prosecutor seeking the Republican nomination for attorney general, according to Adams’s campaign.

Del. Robert B. Bell (R-Albemarle) is also running in the Republican primary for the nomination to oppose Attorney General Mark Herring (D).

Lee and Adams were law clerks at the Supreme Court at the same time, Lee for Justice Samuel Alito and Adams for Justice Clarence Thomas.

“John is a movement conservative and a principled legal thinker who understands that liberty is preserved through adherence to our Constitution,” Lee said in a statement. “Over the years, I have urged John to seek political office because I know he shares my conservative values and will fight to protect Virginians from government overreach.”

Lee is a conservative firebrand known for his efforts to repeal the Affordable Care Act. In October, he joined a group of Senate Democrats and Republicans to introduce criminal justice reform legislation.

The endorsement is sign candidates are jockeying for position well ahead of the 2017 race.

State GOP leaders have recommended that the party choose its nominee by convention, a day-long gathering that typically attracts the most hard-line Republicans and tends to result in conservative candidates. Alternatively, the party could opt for a state-run primary.

Adams, of Chesterfield, leads the government investigations department at McGuire Woods law firm and previously worked in the President George W. Bush White House.