Club for Growth: Wikis


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The Club for Growth is a fiscally conservative 501(c)(4) political organization with an affiliated political action committee (PAC) active in the United States of America. The Club advocates limited government, lower taxes, less government spending, free trade, and economic freedom. Its PAC endorses and raises money for pro-growth candidates.

The Club was founded in 1999 by Stephen Moore, and today claims over 40000 members. The current president is the former Indiana Congressman, Chris Chocola.


Political initiatives

An ad mailed by the Club for Growth to residents of Rhode Island in early 2006 criticizing incumbent Senator Lincoln Chafee.

The Club invented the "RINO Watch" list to monitor "Republican office holders around the nation who have advanced egregious anti-growth, anti-freedom or anti-free market policies." (RINO is a pejorative acronym for Republican In Name Only.) The list has focused on Republicans who voted against tax changes and budget cuts supported by the Club.

In addition, the Club for Growth also makes independent expenditures encouraging certain moderate Republicans to vote more conservatively (e.g. running ads against Senators George Voinovich of Ohio, Olympia Snowe of Maine, and Lincoln Chafee of Rhode Island after these Senators objected to certain aspects of President Bush's tax cuts).

The Club for Growth's website features a "Comrade of the Month" award, which is given at the end of each month to the public official or figure "who best lives up to the policies of big-government redistribution and restrictions on economic freedom."[1] In March 2009, Barack Obama was named the third "Comrade of the Month" in response to his proposed $3.6 trillion budget and projections that his economic policies will result in a doubling of the national debt to $12.5 trillion.[2]

Election activities

On September 19, 2005, the Federal Election Commission filed suit against the Club for Growth for violations of the Federal Election Campaign Act for failing to register as a political action committee in the 2000, 2002, and 2004 congressional elections.[3] In September, 2007 the Club for Growth agreed to pay $350000 in civil penalties. The agreement, if approved by a federal judge, would mark the end of the lawsuit.


2002 Congressional elections

In the 2002 Congressional races, 17 out of 19 candidates endorsed by the organization's PAC won. It also endorsed Mark Sanford in the South Carolina gubernatorial Republican primary as he defeated Lt. Gov. Bob Peeler.

2004 Congressional elections

In 2004, the Club for Growth's PAC caused a stir within the Republican Party by endorsing and heavily supporting U.S. Representative Pat Toomey, who challenged incumbent Senator Arlen Specter in the Republican primary in Pennsylvania. The organization was reported to have collected contributions totaling over $934000 for Toomey. It also spent $1 million on its own independent television advertising campaign on Toomey's behalf. Specter, who had the support of President Bush, the RNC, and Sen. Rick Santorum, defeated Toomey by a narrow margin of 51%–49%. Afterwards, Toomey accepted the position as President of the Club for Growth which he served as until April 2009.

2006 Congressional elections

After a good deal of electoral success in 2004, the Club continued its policy of supporting candidates who support its positions for federal office, especially during contested primaries. Freshmen U.S. Congressmen Adrian M. Smith (R-NE), Doug Lamborn (R-CO), Bill Sali (R-ID), and Tim Walberg (R-MI) all won their heavily contested primary elections in large part because of the Club's involvement. In fact, Rep. Walberg defeated moderate incumbent Republican Congressman Joe Schwarz in the August 2006 Michigan primary. Schwarz was backed by Pres. Bush, Sen. McCain, the NRCC, and almost all of the state's Republican establishment. The Club for Growth criticized Schwarz for a number of liberal views on fiscal issues including his votes against the elimination of earmarks in appropriations bills and his support of higher taxes while in the Michigan Legislature. He was the only incumbent Republican congressman defeated in a primary that year. Walberg went on to lose the seat to Democrat Mark Schauer in 2008.

The Club successfully supported the reelection of Democratic Congressman Henry Cuellar (D-TX) in a heavily fought race against former Congressman Ciro Rodriguez. They were less successful in supporting the "Three Mikes" for the US Senate (Mike Bouchard in MI, Mike McGavick in WA, and Michael Steele in MD.) Sharron Angle was defeated in Nevada's 2nd Congressional District (CD) in the Republican primary. Angle was the first candidate endorsed by the Club for the 2006 campaign and it spent over a year raising close to one million dollars for her. The result was an exceedingly close loss to Dean Heller, who would go on to victory in November 2006. The Club additionally supported the losing primary campaigns of Minnesota state senator Phil Krinkie for MN CD 6 and Oklahoma state rep. Kevin Calvey for OK CD 5. The winners of those primaries, Michele Bachmann and Mary Fallin respectively, both went on to be elected to congress in November. (The Club supported Michele Bachmann for re-election in 2008.) The Club also supported incumbent congressman Chris Chocola in his losing race in Indiana, John Gard's losing effort in WI's CD 8, and Rick O'Donnell's losing effort for the open 7th CD in Colorado. They did support the successful reelection of Rep. Steve Chabot in a hard fought OH CD 1 victory.

The most high profile race of the year for The Club was their support of conservative Cranston, Rhode Island mayor Stephen Laffey against moderate incumbent Senator Lincoln Chafee. Chafee was able to hang on for a 54% to 46% victory in large part because of Democrats that crossed over to vote for him and from the strong aid of Sen. Elizabeth Dole, the NRSC, President Bush, and the rest of the party's establishment in Rhode Island.

2007 Congressional elections

The Club endorsed state senator Steve Buehrer in the special election for Ohio CD 5 to replace the deceased Rep. Paul Gillmor. Buehrer however was defeated by Bob Latta, the son of former Rep. Del Latta, in the Republican primary in November 2007 by a 44% to 40% margin. Latta went on to defeat the Democrat and be elected to congress.

The Club strongly supported Paul Jost, the chairman of the Virginia chapter of The Club for Growth, in the contest to replace deceased Rep. Jo Ann Davis in Virginia congressional district 1. In the nominating convention however Jost was defeated by state delegate Rob Wittman. Wittman went on to win the special general election versus Democrat Phil Forgit and was sworn into congress in December 2007.

2008 Congressional elections

The Club entered the 2008 election cycle by continuing to fund Republican candidates for Congress that support their stated goals of less taxes, more trade, and smaller government. In most cases the candidates they support are in "conservative" districts that rarely elect Democrats or "liberal" Republicans. It is rumored, however, that Club for Growth will not support a candidate if they are not viewed as a viable contender in their own right. This is allegedly why the Club failed to support Joe McLauglin in his primary challenge to Rep. Walter Jones in North Carolina's 3rd congressional district. McLauglin went on to lose by a 60% to 40% margin. Tim Walberg won the 2006 election (when Democrats had been expecting to face moderate incumbent Joe Schwarz, and so mounted only token opposition), but he could not hold the (previously safe Republican) district in 2008.

Primary elections

  • Maryland 01: state senator Andrew P. Harris against the nine term incumbent, Wayne Gilchrest. In the Feb. 12th primary Harris surged to a strong 44% to 32% victory. Gilchrest is the second incumbent Republican to be defeated by a candidate supported by the Club. The first was Rep. Joe Schwarz in Michigan in 2006.[4] Harris was, however, unable to win the general election.
  • Pennsylvania 10: Chris Hackett, who defeated Dan Meuser in the primary on April 22, 2008 by 52% to 48%. Chris Hackett was defeated by Chris Carney 56% to 44% in a district that was once considered safe for Republicans.
  • In California 04, open seat: state senator Tom McClintock, who defeated former congressman Doug Ose by 53.7% to 38.7% in the June 3, 2008 primary.
  • For the open New Mexico senate seat being vacated by Pete Domenici: Congressman Steve Pearce, who defeated fellow New Mexico U.S. House member Heather Wilson 51% to 49% in the June 3, 2008 primary. (He then lost the general election to Tom Udall.)
  • Georgia 10: incumbent Paul Broun who defeated state rep. Barry Fleming 71% to 29% in the July 15, 2008 primary election, to the surprise of virtually all observers.[5]
  • In Colorado CD 05: incumbent Doug Lamborn, who won 46%–29%–25% in a rematch against two opponents he defeated in the primary two years previously. In 2006, Lamborn was one of the biggest upset victors supported by The Club.[6]
  • In Arizona 05: former Maricopa County Treasurer David Schweikert, who narrowly defeated former candidate Susan Bitter-Smith by 29.9% to 28%; there were three other candidates.[7]
  • In Mississippi's 3rd Congressional District (open seat), Charlie Ross, a former state senator. Ross however was defeated in the April 1, 2008 primary run-off election by Gregg Harper 57% to 43%.
  • In Pennsylvania 05 (open seat): The Club endorsed, but did not raise funds for, Matt Shaner. Shaner finished a close second in the crowded April 22, 2008 primary. Pennsylvania does not have runoff elections.
  • In Alabama 02 (open seat): state senator Harri Anne Smith's, who placed second. Smith placed second in the June 3, 2008 primary with 22% of the vote and faced a run-off on July 15, 2008 with State Rep. Jay Love who earned 35% of the vote. The NRCC and most Republican officials eventually endorsed Smith's opponent, and Smith lost the July 15, 2008 runoff 47% to 53%.[8] Smith would go on to endorse Democrat Bobby Bright over Love in the general election and Bright would narrowly defeat Love.
  • In Missouri 09 (open seat): state representative Dr. Bob Onder, who lost August 5, 2008 to former state rep. Blaine Luetkemeyer 31% to 39%. The Club made no mention of Onder's defeat on their webpage.[9]
  • In an odd twist, The Club ran a series of ads attacking moderate Republican state treasurer Lynn Jenkins in her quest to be elected from Kansas' 2nd congressional district, but yet did not endorse her opponent, former Rep. Jim Ryun. Jenkins faced a heated battle with the former Congressman Ryun as he was seeking to regain the seat he lost in a 2006 upset. The incumbent representative, Democrat Nancy Boyda, was seen by many as the most vulnerable Democrat in congress and lost in November to Jenkins. On August 5 Jenkins won a narrow 51%–49% primary victory over Ryun.[10] The Club made no mention of Ryun's defeat on their webpage.
  • Alaska At Large: in the August 26th Republican primary fight between Lt. Governor Sean Parnell and incumbent Don Young, the Club spent close to a million dollars against Young, who has long been labeled a king of pork barrel politics and is the father of the "Bridge to Nowhere." Parnell lost by just 304 votes out of over 93,000 votes cast.[11]

Special elections

  • Louisiana 01: State Sen. Steve Scalise in the May 3, 2008 special election for Louisiana CD 1 to replace Bobby Jindal. Scalise won with 75% of the vote. He had previously defeated Tim Burns in the Republican primary by 58% to 42%.
  • Louisiana 06 (open seat, but previously Republican since 1974, and again after the 2008 general election): Woody Jenkins, who lost the special election Sat. May 3, 2008 to Democrat Don Cazayoux 49% to 46%. Louisiana does not have a runoff for special general elections.

General election

Nine Club-supported candidates won seats in the general election:

  • Rep. Steve Scalise in Louisiana CD 1 with 66% of the vote.
  • Rep. Paul Broun's successful reelection campaign in Georgia CD 10 by a 61% to 39% tally.
  • Rep. John Shadegg's successful reelection campaign in Arizona's 4th CD by 54% to 42%.
  • Rep. Scott Garrett's successful reelection campaign in New Jersey's 5th CD by a 56% to 42% margin.
  • Rep. Doug Lamborn's successful reelection campaign for Colorado's 5th CD by a 60% to 37% tally.
  • Rep. Michele Bachmann's successful reelection campaign in Minnesota's 6th CD by a 47% to 44% margin despite being a top Democratic target after her controversial remarks on Chris Matthews's Hardball program.
  • Pete Olson's successful campaign to defeat incumbent Rep. Nick Lampson in Texas' 22nd CD by a 53% to 45% tally. This was one of five districts that Republicans took from the Democrats.
  • Mike Coffman's successful campaign to replace retiring incumbent Rep. Tom Tancredo in Colorado's 6th CD by a 60% to 40% total.
  • Tom McClintock's victory over Democrat Charlie Brown to win California's CD 4 by a 51% to 49% tally. The seat had been held by retiring Rep. John Doolittle.[12]
  • Sen. Saxby Chambliss's 58% to 42% victory over Democrat Jim Martin in the Georgia runoff election of December 2, 2008. Under Georgia law, if a candidate fails to top 50% of the vote, a runoff election is held between the two candidates that received the most votes. Chambliss garnered 49.8% of the vote to Martin's 46% in the November general election and thus a runoff was set. The Club had not endorsed Chambliss in the general election, but came to his aide for the runoff after citing his conservative voting record and the need to thwart a filibuster proof Democratic majority of 60 Senate seats.

Ten Club-supported candidates were defeated in the general election:

  • Sen. John E. Sununu's (R-NH) was defeated by former New Hampshire Gov. Jean Shaheen in a rematch of the 2002 election by a 52% to 45% margin.
  • Former Congressman Bob Schaffer lost the open Colorado senate seat of Sen. Wayne Allard to Democratic Rep. Mark Udall by 52% to 43%.
  • Rep. Steve Pearce was defeated by Rep. Tom Udall 61% to 39% for the open New Mexico senate seat being vacated by Sen. Pete Domenici.
  • Andrew P. Harris was narrowly defeated in Maryland CD 1 by Democrat Frank Kratovil by 160,914 (49%) to 159,998 (49%). The endorsement of Kratovil by Rep. Wayne Gilchrest, whom Harris defeated in the GOP primary, was seen as the deciding factor in the election. Kratovil thus became the first Democrat to represent this district since Gilchrest himself had begun his first term in 1991, and only the second Democrat since 1963.[13]
  • Rep. Tim Walberg defeated in Michigan CD 7 by Mark Schauer 49% to 47%. Former Rep. Joe Schwarz, who was defeated by Walberg in the 2006 GOP primary, endorsed and campaigned for Schauer. Schwarz has indicated that he wanted to remain neutral if the election stayed local, but he endorsed Schauer because of The Club's continued involvement.[14][15]
  • Rep. Bill Sali was defeated 51% to 49% by Walter Minnick in Idaho's conservative 1st CD.
  • Rep. Tom Feeney's reelection loss for Florida CD 24. Feeney was defeated by Suzanne Kosmas 57% to 41% after he admitted to taking free golf trips to Scotland with disgraced lobbyist Jack Abramoff.
  • Former State Rep. Dean Andal was defeated for California's CD 11 by Rep. Jerry McNerney 55% to 45%.
  • David Schweikert was defeated in Arizona's CD 5 by Rep. Harry Mitchell 53% to 44%.
  • Chris Hackett was defeated 56% to 44% in Pennsylvania's CD 10 by incumbent Chris Carney.

2008 Presidential election

During the 2008 Republican presidential primaries, the Club was critical of Mike Huckabee, using funds from backers of Mitt Romney to attack him as the "tax-increasing liberal governor of Arkansas".[16] Huckabee, in turn, has referred to the Club for Growth as the "Club for Greed".[17]

The Club has occasionally made statements both in support and opposition to various proposals by Sen. John McCain. The Club never endorsed a presidential candidate, but did release statements praising Sen. McCain and Gov. Palin from time to time.

2009 special election

The Club endorsed in the special election in New York's 23rd congressional district the Conservative Party of New York candidate, Doug Hoffman instead of moderate Republican candidate Dede Scozzafava. With the Club pouring money into Hoffman's campaign, Scozzafava realized that she could not win and withdrew from the race the Sunday before the November 3 special election, endorsing the Democratic candidate Bill Owens.[18] Owens won the election in a district where portions had not had a Democratic congressman since the 19th Century.[19]

2010 Congressional elections

  • On March 4, 2009 the Club endorsed former Oklahoma Republican state rep. Kevin Calvey for Oklahoma's 5th CD. Incumbent Rep. Mary Fallin has announced that she will be running for governor and the seat will be open.
  • On April 16, 2009, the Club for Growth's PAC endorsed Pat Toomey in his Senate run against Arlen Specter.[20]
  • On April 28, 2009, Pennsylvania Senator Arlen Specter specifically mentioned the Club for Growth's previous activity in supporting conservative primary opponents against moderate Republicans such as Wayne Gilchrest, Joe Schwarz, Lincoln Chafee and Heather Wilson, in his decision to run for re-election as a Democrat in 2010.


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