Tuesday, July 06, 2010

Club For Growth-- Making Trouble In Michigan, North Carolina... And Across America


Clubful o' Freaks

In Michigan's third congressional district-- half a dozen counties starting with Kent (Grand Rapids) plus part of Shawnee and the northern slice of Oakland-- there's a crowded Republican primary to replace retiring mainstream conservative Vern Ehlers. The district is the reddest in Michigan and one of the 2 or 3 reddest in the whole Midwest, but red in the sense of voting for mainstream Republicans, not red meaning neo-fascist. Although... we're about to see if that's still true. The Club for Growth just endorsed a neo-fascist candidate over the mainstream conservatives who are running.

Obama basically tied McCain in MI-03 (49-49% with McCain just a handful of votes ahead)-- quite a difference from Bush's 60% and 59% wins in 2000 and 2004. In 2008 Ehlers was reelected with 61%, slightly under the 63% he got in 2006. Last month, after the two top Republican Party recruits demurred, Ehlers endorsed Steve Heacock, a former Kent County Commissioner. But as popular as the 8 term incumbent is, his word probably isn't enough to make or break a candidate. The other Republicans in the race are state Senator Bill Hardiman, Louise Johnson, Bob Overbeek and first term state Rep. Justin Amash. Amash is an out-of-the-mainstream teabagger fanatic who had already announced he would primary Ehlers. The powerful Grand Rapids GOP Establishment is uncomfortable with Amash's extremism and prefer more practical, mainstream conservative pork barrel earmarkers like Ehlers, Paul Henry before him and Harold Sawyer before him.

Hardiman, who, if he wins, would give the GOP it's second African-American member of Congress (the first being South Carolina primary winner Tim Scott), has been leading the race but with John Birchers and militia types rushing to support Amash-- including Ron Paul, who endorsed him last month-- last week's decision by the Club For Growth to get behind Amash could be a game-changer. If you like Sharron Angle (NV) and Mike Lee (UT), Club for Growth's last two primary winners, you'll love Amash. A drooling Club for Growth spokesman, promising enough campaign cash to win the race, announced "We will do whatever we can to help Justin Amash win this race. This guy is going to be a rock star the moment he is sworn in." It's not the first time the Club for Growth upset the GOP applecart in Michigan.
In 2006, it largely bankrolled Tim Walberg’s upset victory in the Republican primary over U.S. Rep. Joe Schwarz, a moderate from Battle Creek. Walberg went on to win the general election, but was defeated in 2008 by Democrat Mark Schauer.

According to analysis by Robinson, the Club for Growth in 2006 funneled $607,000 in individual contributions to Walberg, most from outside Michigan. It also independently spent $514,000 to back Walberg, including TV ads accusing Schwarz of being “embarrassingly liberal."

...Critics-- and even some Republicans-- say the organization actually harms the GOP by helping elect candidates so far to the right they have trouble winning general elections.

“If their goal is to increase the Democrats’ numbers in Congress, they’re doing a very good job,” U.S. Rep. Steven LaTourette of Ohio said in 2009, speaking as a moderate Republican who won his seat in 1994.

...“Club for Growth is an organization that irrespective of what they tell you, it really stands for nothing,” Schwarz said.

“They basically want to buy a member of Congress. My advice to Amash, and he isn’t asking for it, is don’t take their money. They are poison."

Schwarz may be correct, at least metaphorically, about them being poison, but they very much do stand for something. They are Republican obstructionism on steroids and they are, more than the GOP itself, a faction dedicated to the most reactionary tenets of conservatism. Theirs would be a world with masters and servants-- very few masters and lots and lots and lots of servants. Yesterday, the Blue America candidate in western North Carolina, Billy Kennedy, reminded us very clearly of what the Club for Growth does stand for:
Last week, under pressure from the Club for Growth and the Heritage Foundation, Republican members of Congress began signing on to a "discharge petition" which would force immediate action on legislation to completely repeal the recently passed health insurance reform law (Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act and the Health Care and Education Reconciliation Act of 2010).
The Club for Growth's government affairs director Andy Roth emailed Republican members with an implied threat that support for repeal "will be considered as a key vote on the Club's annual congressional scorecard," one of  the "gold standards" in conservative rankings. Representative Virginia Foxx  promptly signed the discharge petition last Tuesday.

Congressional candidate Billy Kennedy issued the following statement:
"Once again, our incumbent Congresswoman shows that she is much more interested in satisfying extremist and powerful special interests than she is in helping the hard working people of Western North Carolina.

"Rep. Foxx has signed on to radical legislation that would immediately repeal every provision in the new health-insurance reform act. A repeal of the bill would return us to the days when insurance companies could refuse to sell insurance policies to people with preexisting conditions.  A repeal would mean insurance companies could once again kick people off their health insurance policies when they get sick.  A repeal would mean children could no longer stay on their parents' insurance until age 26.  A repeal will reopen the Medicare Part D  'Donut Hole,' putting our seniors back into a situation where they can't afford essential medicine.

"There are problems with the health care bill, and I am committed to fixing those problems, but we shouldn't throw the good parts out of the bill just to score political points in an election year.

"I support an optional Medicare buy-in for all Americans at cost. An optional buy-in would not add to the federal deficit, and people could choose to buy a Medicare plan or buy an insurance policy from a private company.

"Repealing the reforms to health-insurance delivery in this  country is definitely the wrong direction for the 5th District and for all North Carolinians."

There are a lot of reasons to replace Virginia Foxx with Billy Kennedy-- and her toadying up to the Club for Growth barely begins to tell the story. Blue America is asking progressives to get behind Billy's fiery populism and help him get his message out to North Carolina voters sick and tired of Foxx's extremism and her embarrassing antics. I wish there was a candidate as good as him in every district where the Republican is a Club For Growth backed sociopath.

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At 9:05 AM, Blogger Unknown said...

Take a look at young war veteran Bob Overbeek who's running in the Michigan race you write about. The real story here is that the Amway crowd is trying to corner the race with DeVos (who brings in the Club for Growth) to support Justin Amash and the Van Andel's who are running an employee, Steve Heacock. In this race, Overbeek is causing problems for the establishment as he is only accepting $1 contributions and this is resonating with small business and the working class. If Overbeek were to knock of the Amway candidates, this would send a shockwave through the Republican establishment.

At 3:17 PM, Anonymous Bob the Owner said...

Sorry, but I know Bpb very well. He has no qualifications for this position.


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