Feb. 11, 2016 SIGN IN | REGISTER

Club for Growth Revels in Relevance

Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call File Photo
The Club for Growth’s former president, Sen. Pat Toomey, has emerged as a top negotiator on the super committee.

“I think it’s a bad idea,” Rogers said. “We’ve got tough decisions; we’re making tough negotiations in that committee. I just think it’s counterproductive. He’s going to win. Intimidation rarely works in this business, unless you’re the unions.”

If the super committee proves successful and the entire Congress must vote on the plan, the club will surely be monitoring the votes.

“They have a scorecard; they make sure everybody knows when there’s a key vote,” Rep. Steven LaTourette (R-Ohio) said. “They can come in and big-foot a primary. So yeah, they have an impact. People don’t want to face a primary opponent who’s a nobody but who all of a sudden gets a million dollars from a bunch of rich guys in New York.”

Much of the club’s policy efforts are a product of its success on the campaign trail in recent cycles. But this cycle, its hesitance to play politics is also a matter of circumstance.

Redistricting has postponed some of the club’s campaign activity as districts and races remain unsettled.

“We’re only in five races right now, and we’re waiting for the House districts to get finalized before we get in too many House races because we don’t know who’s running where,” Chocola said.

The club is more active in Senate races this cycle, but it hasn’t backed any challengers to incumbents yet — despite earlier threats this year.

Instead, the club endorsed Republicans in open-seat races and for Democratic seats, including ex-Rep. Mark Neumann in Wisconsin, Ohio state Treasurer Josh Mandel, former Texas Solicitor General Ted Cruz and Rep. Jeff Flake (Ariz.). So far, only two of those races appear to be big primary fights: Neumann’s bid against former Wisconsin Gov. Tommy Thompson and Cruz’s campaign versus Texas Lt. Gov. David Dewhurst.

At the beginning of the cycle, the club threatened to target three sitting Senators: Orrin Hatch (R-Utah), Dick Lugar (R-Ind.) and Olympia Snowe (R-Maine). So far, the club hasn’t endorsed challengers in those races, though it has spent advertising money against Lugar and Hatch.

Chocola warned of more endorsements, and he expects the club to spend more this cycle than last cycle on individual races.

But some Republicans confessed it might be for the best that the club is slow to jump into too many races. After all, in previous cycles, the club has successfully backed conservative Republicans in primaries — only to watch them lose in the general election to Democrats.

Even one of Chocola’s closest friends on Capitol Hill, Rep. Tom Cole (R-Okla.), admitted that sometimes the club misses its mark in its politics.

“I just think that, on occasion, you have to recognize that political realities mean people have to be free to do what they need to do,” Cole said. “But at the end of the day, they do more good than bad. But sometimes I think they mistarget.”

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