The fiscal conservatives at Club For Growth are best known for their primary challenges to establishment Republicans. But the organization plans on changing tactics.
The group will be playing in more general elections in 2020 than it has in the past.
From Roll Call:
The Club for Growth has long been an arbiter of crowded primaries in safe Republican seats, but its role is evolving in the era of President Donald Trump.
The group’s super PAC and PAC are still major players in internecine battles — the club successfully torpedoed a candidate in a Pennsylvania nominating convention over the weekend and is already interviewing candidates for two House special elections in North Carolina.
But with Trump making his own Twitter endorsements, the once anti-Trump Club for Growth is no longer the major king-maker on the GOP scene. At the same time, it’s playing the long game by staying engaged beyond primaries. The club’s super PAC spent in more general elections last cycle than it ever has before and expects that trend to continue in 2020.
“It really shows a paradigm shift for the Club For Growth,” David McIntosh, the group’s president, said last week.
The club’s general election activity was, in part, an indirect effect of the Trump presidency, which put at stake many longtime GOP House districts that hadn’t been in play before. Next year, the club will be looking to win back some of those seats, including Virginia’s 7th District, South Carolina’s 1st and Utah’s 4th, as well as watching for retirements.
The seat the Club for Growth is already working on is Virginia’s 7th District. That seat was held by Dave Brat, who is most famous for defeating then-Republican Majority Leader Eric Cantor in a primary challenge in 2014. Brat was himself defeated in November 2018 by Democrat Abigail Spanberger.
The candidate the Club is trying to get into the race is Virginia state Del. Nick Freitas. Freitas, a favorite of more libertarian-leaning Republicans, unsuccessfully ran for the U.S. Senate from Virginia in 2018.
“Nick is a conservative rock star and a consensus candidate who is well positioned to take back this seat,” Tom Schultz, the Club’s vice president for campaigns told The Hayride.
It’s too early to know what’s going to happen in 2020, but it’s good to see conservatives gearing up to go offense.