Even if Bachus loses next week, Republicans are not likely to give up his seat. The district leans so heavily Republican that Bachus won in 2010 with 98 percent of the vote.
The largest beneficiary of the new super PAC has been Kucinich, who publicly distanced himself from ads that accused his opponent, 15-term Kaptur, of owning a “fancy condo” in Washington’s suburbs worth nearly $500,000.
Ellis said there were no ethical issues that led the group to back Kucinich. Rather, it was the antiwar liberal’s fierce independence from his party’s leadership that held appeal.
“No one was ever more independent, no one has ever accused Dennis Kucinich of being beholden to party leadership,” Ellis said.
In Ohio’s 2nd Congressional District, just 86,000 Republicans cast ballots in the primary for Schmidt, who was expected to coast to victory. Less than three weeks before the primary, Wenstrup had just $100,000 in his campaign account.
The Campaign for Primary Accountability stepped in and spent $49,000 on radio and Internet ads, as well as phone calls to voters in the final week of the campaign. Wenstrup won by six percentage points.
Ellis used to work for former Rep. Steve Kagen (D-Wis.), a liberal lawmaker who lost reelection in 2010. He said the group employs about a dozen workers at an office in Houston, where they’re mapping out a target list.
Most of the donors have Republican leanings. Linbeck’s previous few donations included $2,000 for George W. Bush’s 2004 presidential campaign.
J. Joe Ricketts, the founder of Ameritrade whose family purchased the Chicago Cubs, gave the group $500,000, its second-largest donation. The most political member of the group is Eric O’Keefe, who helped found U.S. Term Limits in the early 1990s. Having decided his pet cause will never become law, O’Keefe is seeking to limit terms through the ballot box, through a $100,000 donation.
Records show they have spent money in five races, three of which are for seats held by Republicans. The group was ready to spend heavily against Rep. Dan Burton (R-Ind.) until he announced he would retire, and Rep. Silvestre Reyes (D-Tex.) is also on the group’s list.
“Elections should be a transmission belt between the voters in a district and their representative,” Linbeck said. “If the belt is broken, if the incumbents are not representative of, and accountable to, the people of the district, we try to step in and fix it. It’s really that simple.”