The Fix: Club for Growth

Are tea party groups more interested in purity or poking the bear?

Are tea party groups more interested in purity or poking the bear?

Conservative groups have lined up behind Ben Sasse in the Nebraska GOP Senate primary, making Sasse the latest in a long line of underdogs to earn the backing of groups whose calling card is upending more establishment-friendly (and often more moderate) candidates.

And according to much of the coverage of their actions -- and the groups involved -- it’s all about conservative purity.

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Mike Huckabee, Mitch McConnell and The Fix Endorsement Hierarchy

Mike Huckabee, Mitch McConnell and The Fix Endorsement Hierarchy

Mike Huckabee has Mitch McConnell’s back. He made that clear with an endorsement on Thursday.

“It isn’t easy fighting on the front lines against Barack Obama and his allies in Congress every day but someone has to do it,” wrote the former Arkansas governor on his Facebook page. “There is nobody who has done it more effectively, who asks for less recognition for his work, than Mitch McConnell.”

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The dirty half-dozen: Six Senate candidates who could foment GOP civil war

The dirty half-dozen: Six Senate candidates who could foment GOP civil war

The tension between establishment Republicans and conservative outside groups has reached a fever pitch with the launch of a new Karl Rove-backed project aimed at nominating electable GOP Senate candidates.

The national Republican Party, quite simply, is tired of having less-electable GOP candidates emerge from primaries and -- to their minds -- cost them Senate seats.

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Lindsey Graham: Obama's worst enemy and best friend

Lindsey Graham: Obama's worst enemy  and best friend

Nobody is a bigger thorn in President Obama's side right now than Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.).And nothing could be better for Graham's political prospects in 2014.

Graham has been such an outspoken critic of Obama on Libya that the president called him out by name at last week's press conference. "If Sen. (John) McCain and Sen. Graham, and others want to go after somebody, they should go after me," Obama said after Graham and McCain criticized U.N. Ambassador Susan Rice.

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GOP freshmen = weak tea

Surprise, surprise: The Republican freshman class isn’t as tea party-friendly as you might think.

We’ve written before on this blog about how the tea party label has been misappropriated to cover all kinds of Republicans who won in 2010. While many latched onto the label or simply let others define them as such, the label wasn’t a great fit for many of them.


Rep. Allen West (R-Fla.) may not be the tea partier you think he is. (Doug Murray/Reuters)

Suddenly, establishment Republicans who embraced conservative causes and opposed President Obama’s health-care legislation became known as tea partiers. John Boehner even called himself one.

Alas, most of them are not tea partiers. And supporters of the tea party movement are starting to take notice.

Case in point: the conservative Club for Growth issued a scorecard of the GOP freshmen class today and concluded that many of them haven’t lived up to their tea party billing.

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After ousting Lugar, Club for Growth’s sterling primary record to be tested — big time

The Club for Growth cemented its role as the preeminent third-party group in Republican primaries on Tuesday, guiding Richard Mourdock to a stunning 22-point win over six-term Sen. Richard Lugar (R-Ind.).

By the end of the Indiana campaign, the Club and its affiliated political action committee, Club for Growth Action, dumped nearly $2 million into ads against Lugar, far exceeding investments by groups like the National Rifle Association ($600,000), Citizens United ($96,000) and spending more on ads than both Lugar ($1.6 million) and Mourdock ($700,000).

It’s just more of the same from a group that has successfully picked its battles over the years and toppled a series of more moderate Republican incumbents and establishment candidates, with very few big losses along the way.

But while the win might have been the Club’s biggest upset to date, the real test may lie ahead.

The Club has backed candidates in four Senate primaries in the coming months, and all but one is an underdog. In addition, it appears likely the Club’s hand-picked candidate will finish third in Nebraska next week.

But first, the Club’s record:

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Club for Growth launches ad against Dick Lugar

The Club for Growth is up with its first television ad against Indiana Republican Sen. Richard Lugar in what appears to be an increasingly perilous primary campaign for the longtime incumbent.

The fiscally conservative Club, whose political action committee endorsed state Treasurer Richard Mourdock back in February, is launching what is technically an issue ad that hits Lugar for his three-plus decades in Congress, as well as his votes on tax issues, the Troubled Asset Relief Program (TARP) bailout and the “Bridge to Nowhere” earmark.

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