Club for Growth Notches Another Win

Club for Growth Notches Another Win
AP Photo/Matt Volz
Club for Growth Notches Another Win
AP Photo/Matt Volz
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In baseball, if you get one hit every three times at bat, you’re an All-Star. The odds in politics aren’t much different. But the Club for Growth PAC, the political action committee for the right-leaning free-market advocacy group, is on a bit of a hot streak.

Its most recent win came Tuesday night in Montana, where the group’s favored candidate, State Auditor Matt Rosendale, scored a hard-fought victory in the four-way Republican Senate primary.  The Club for Growth PAC, which endorsed Rosendale last July, pumped more than $2 million into the race to help boost Rosendale over former Judge Russ Fagg by a 34 percent to 28 percent margin.

“Not only is Matt Rosendale a staunch fiscal conservative, he is a proven winner who stands an excellent chance of defeating liberal Sen. Jon Tester in the fall,” said Club for Growth President David McIntosh in a statement Tuesday night.

Montana, which President Trump won by 20 percentage points in 2016, is a top target of Republicans this fall. Until recently, however, when Trump ripped Tester on Twitter for statements he made about Dr. Ronnie Jackson, at the time Trump’s embattled nominee for secretary of Veterans Affairs, the race in Montana had largely taken a back seat to Senate battles in West Virginia, Indiana, and Missouri.

The Club for Growth’s success in backing Rosendale comes on the heels of a banner night in last month’s Texas primary runoffs, where three of the four CFG-backed candidates scored wins:

  • In the 6th District primary race to replace retiring Republican Rep. Joe Barton, Ron Wright beat Jake Ellzey, 52 percent-48 percent. Wright, the current Tarrant County tax assessor-collector, publicly committed to joining the House Freedom Caucus and is heavily favored in November.
  • In the 21st District primary race for an open seat created by the retirement of Lamar Smith, Chip Roy, former staffer for Sen. John Cornyn and chief of staff to Sen. Ted Cruz, beat Matt McCall. The Club for Growth endorsed Roy last December and spent more than $1 million to help boost him into the top two vote-getters in the March 6 primary and to then help him prevail over McCall, 53 percent to 47 percent.
  • The open seat in the 27th District created by Blake Farenthold’s retirement pitted Michael Cloud against Bech Bruun. CFG threw its endorsement to Cloud in April and spent more than $600,000 in the ensuing five weeks. In the end it wasn’t close: Cloud beat Bruun, 61 percent to 39 percent.

Another CFG-backed candidate, Van Taylor, running to replace Republican Rep. Sam Johnson in Texas’s 3rd District, won the March 6 primary outright with 85 percent of the vote.

The next test for the Club for Growth PAC comes next week in South Carolina, where the group has thrown its endorsement behind Josh Kimbrell in the race to replace Congressman Trey Gowdy in the Palmetto State’s 4th Congressional District.  The race on the Republican side is immensely crowded – some 13 candidates are running – and unless someone manages the unlikely feat of winning more than 50 percent of the vote, the top two vote-getters will move on to a runoff election two weeks later on June 26.

August will also a busy month for the Club for Growth as it supports another three Senate candidates (Marsha Blackburn in Tennessee, Josh Hawley in Missouri, and Kevin Nicholson in Wisconsin) and three House candidates (Mark Green in Tennessee’s 7th District, Dino Rossi in Washington’s 8th District, and Greg Steube in Florida’s 17th District).

A week -- let alone 2 ½ months -- is an eternity in both baseball and politics these days. Only time will tell if the Club for Growth can keep its hot streak going.

Tom Bevan is the co-founder and publisher of RealClearPolitics and the co-author of "Election 2012: A Time for Choosing." Email: tom@realclearpolitics.com, Twitter: @TomBevanRCP



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