Federal Politics

Published — August 28, 2012 Updated — May 19, 2014 at 12:19 pm ET

Arizona primary latest example of Club for Growth’s clout

Arizona Republican Senate candidate Rep. Jeff Flake, R-Arizona, is running for retiring Sen. Jon Kyl's, R-Arizona, seat Tuesday. Ross D. Franklin/AP

Rep. Jeff Flake favored to win

Introduction

As Republicans have battled for the soul of their party in primaries across the country, the deep-pocketed, anti-tax Club for Growth has proved itself a force to be reckoned with.

If heavily favored Rep. Jeff Flake prevails Tuesday in Arizona over businessman Wil Cardon, the Club will mark three wins against two losses among its favored candidates in U.S. Senate GOP primary races.

Of about five-dozen organizations that spent a combined $32 million on independent expenditures in Republican Senate primaries this year, Club for Growth ranks No. 1, having spent more than $10 million, according to a Center for Public Integrity analysis of Federal Election Commission records.

The Club’s super PAC, which is allowed to accept unlimited contributions and spend the funds on ads attacking or backing candidates, is responsible for nearly all of this spending.

Flake has cultivated a reputation in Washington as an anti-earmark crusader, routinely earning a 100 percent favorable rating from the Club for his voting record. He was also one of the first senators to sign the Club’s pledge to repeal President Barack Obama’s signature healthcare reform law.

Flake was the first candidate of the 2012 election cycle endorsed by the group back in February of 2011.

The Club has spent more than $1 million supporting Flake through its nonprofit, political action committee and its Club for Growth Action super PAC — that’s about 70 percent of the $1.5 million spent by outside groups on independent expenditures in the Arizona contest.

Cardon has sunk about $9 million of his own funds into the race, but trailed Flake by 22 percentage points in a recent poll.

Notably, the Club for Growth’s PAC has also steered about $885,000 in bundled contributions into Flake’s campaign war chest, according to the nonpartisan Center for Responsive Politics — more money than any other federal candidate.

Super PACs, which have flourished in the wake of the U.S. Supreme Court’s Citizens United ruling in 2010, are required to disclose their donors.

Among the super PAC’s top donors are billionaire tech pioneer and Ron Paul supporter Peter Thiel ($2 million); board member and leveraged buyout specialist John W. Childs ($1.1 million); investor Virginia James, who sits on the Club’s leadership council ($1 million); and board chairman Jackson Stephens ($1 million).

Club for Growth spokesman Barney Keller said his organization is “proud to play a role” in helping to elect conservatives who will “fight to pass pro-growth policies.”

“We don’t care about our win-loss record,” Keller said. “We just want limited government, lower taxes and pro-growth policies passed in Washington.”

This outlook has often put it at odds with the Republican establishment.

Club for Growth Action spent more than $5.6 million on ads aimed at helping Ted Cruz in the Texas GOP Senate primary. Cruz beat Lt. Gov. David Dewhurst in a heated primary runoff election in July. And the Club spent seven figures assisting the candidacy of Richard Mourdock, who bested moderate incumbent Sen. Dick Lugar in Indiana’s Republican Senate primary.

Only in Wisconsin did an establishment candidate prevail over the Club’s favored contender. Earlier this month, former four-term Gov. Tommy Thompson defeated Club-endorsed Mark Neumann, a former congressman, and political newcomer Eric Hovde, who spent more than $5 million of his own money on the race.

The Club’s other loss came in Nebraska, where state Sen. Deb Fischer unexpectedly triumphed over Club-endorsed Don Stenberg and Jon Bruning, the candidate preferred by the U.S. Chamber of Commerce.

Reity O’Brien contributed to this report.

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SOUTH JERSEYTed SiroisMark SullivanTom LarkinAnonymous Recent comment authors
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Mark Sullivan
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Mark Sullivan

Trump needs to conduct these activities because the entire MSM media, excluding Fox, is campaigning against him 24/7/365.

Didn’t Monica’s boyfriend’s wife and various criminal enterprises outspend Trump by almost 2-1?

CapitalistRoader
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CapitalistRoader

Why wouldn’t he get an early start on fund raising? Hillary outspent him two-to-one in 2016. The Dem’s are the party of big money. The President knows this and is attempting to get a jump on it. Of course the Dem candidate will outspend him in 2020 so it’s only rational that he starts fund raising now.

George Young
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George Young

Oh brother. We just 8 years of the Campaigner – in – Chief. Where was this journalistic rectal thermometer then. Just another article about 2000 words too long that merely takes another slap at Trump for something he far from initiated.

j stevenson
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j stevenson

The big difference between Trump and all the rest is his refusing to accept funds from lobbyists, so they don’t have the White House access they are used to. These are the donors who buy the presidency and are as pixxed off that he won the election as are the media and the Dems. Lobbyists have never been shut out of the WH and Trump has told them he is not for sale.

Anonymous
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Anonymous

Trump needs to be impeached and tossed in prison. Then have the key thrown away so he will never be free. Then he can see how it feels not to have freedom.

Mark Sullivan
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Mark Sullivan

Thank you for the usual insightful leftist low IQ Snowflake response.

barney
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hes not imprisoning them hes sending them back to their country chill tf out

SOUTH JERSEY
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SOUTH JERSEY

WHY DONT YOU HAVE FREEDOM?

Tom Larkin
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Tom Larkin

First, something positive. I was happy to learn of empirical information in article. BUT, the article was so slanted against President Trump as to be deemed fake news (“Perhaps Trump just lied.” (Two different issues)). The article mentions that President Trump raised over $67 million, but ended 2018 with $19 million. President Trump spent over $40 million 2016 and 2017. President Trump conducted 57 political rallies. The article notes the hats and T-shirts sold, but NEVER MENTIONS THE INCREASE IN THE NUMBER OF REPUBLICAN SENATORS during a mid-term election that lost the House and the number of political rallies in… Read more »

Ted Sirois
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Ted Sirois

At least Trump is getting donations from willing donors. Fresh from his first election, Obama used billions of our children’s tax dollars to save thousands of union jobs in the car industry and bailed out the banks and many Wall Street businesses. This secured his source of reelection funds for his reelection four years later.

South Jersey
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South Jersey

TRUMP 2020; IS AN AMAZINGLY SMART MAN! VERY ORIGINAL & CREATIVE. I AM HAPPY TO HAVE HIS AS POTUS.

SOUTH JERSEY
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SOUTH JERSEY

THIS ARTICLE WAS OBVIOUSLY WRITTEN BY, A TRUMP-HATE-GROUP. THAT FEELS; IT IS NOT NORMAL TO BE SUCCESSFUL WITH YOUR OWN BRAND NAME. WHEN, IF FACT, IT IS NORMAL! >>>>> THIS IS >>> FAKE NEWS!!! <<<< ie: A PACK-OF-LIES; SPUN INTO; DEFAMATION OF CHARACTER. FOR A SINISTER-AGENDA OF; FASCIST DEMOCRATIC SOCIALIST, COUP D'ETAT