Illinois Rep. John Shimkus became the Club for Growth's second Republican incumbent target on Wednesday when it endorsed state Sen. Kyle McCarter in the 15th District race.
“While Kyle McCarter would bring a fresh breath of fiscal conservatism to Washington, his opponent, John Shimkus, is the epitome of what’s wrong with Congress," said Club for Growth President David McIntosh in a statement.
McIntosh dinged Shimkus for a list of positions he viewed as flying in the face of the group's mission of fiscal conservatism such as supporting the budget deal passed by Congress before it left for its holiday break or the reauthorization of the Export-Import Bank, a once little-known government agency that has drawn loathe from conservatives who view it as "crony capitalism."
The Club endorsed North Carolina Republican Jim Duncan over Rep. Renee Ellmers last month .
One of the most powerful groups on the right, the Club for Growth has been slow to engage in many of the primaries Republican incumbents are facing this year. Part of that, conservatives said, is that it has been successful in recent years in gaining ground.
But its incumbent challenges – even those attractive to conservatives, like taking on Sens. John McCain in Arizona or Richard C. Shelby in Alabama – are heavy lifts. The easiest way for the group to get someone that passes their litmus test into Congress is in primaries for open seats in safe Republican districts, known as "A-seats" within the organization.
Part of the group's strength, said one Republican operative, is its willingness to be picky. "The fact that they don’t do a lot of these – it doesn’t really matter“ the operative said. "They never endorse just to say they endorsed."
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