What distinguishes the Club for Growth from other pro-GOP groups is that it will target Republican incumbents for defeat if the club deems these incumbents insufficiently committed to cutting taxes. ...The Club for Growth also posts the names of those it deems RINOs when they vote to support pathetically outdated concepts like overtime pay for workers. Grrr!
This is not the way most Republican leaders in Congress and in the White House like to do business—or at least not the way these leaders say they like to do business. But Stephen Moore, the Club for Growth's president, says he doesn't care what Republican leaders say. "[P]oliticians are cowards," he told the New York Times Magazine's Matt Bai last year. "We say we're going to run someone against them, and they start wetting their pants." Grrr!
Obviously it does the Club for Growth's pit-bull reputation no good if it spends $2.3 million to defeat [Penn. Senator Arlen] Specter and then fails to get its man. Indeed, after Specter won re-election, I found myself wondering how many RINOs the Club for Growth had chased out of Congress in the past? "They've never defeated an incumbent," answered Sarah Chamberlain Resnick, executive director of the Republican Main Street Partnership, a pro-moderate PAC that tangles constantly with the Club for Growth. "The closest they came was Arlen Specter."
The Club for Growth got a lot of publicity in 2000 when it targeted Rep. Marge Roukema, a Republican moderate from New Jersey. Her primary challenger came close to beating her, but in the end, Roukema won. The club targeted Republican moderate Wayne Gilchrist in 2002, but in the end, Gilchrist won. (After the primary, the club gave Gilchrist $250 so it could claim him as one of that year's "victories.") The club thought about targeting Sen. John McCain this year but couldn't find a Republican challenger serious enough to give money to. And so on.
When you get past Moore's bluster, the Club for Growth really isn't all that interested in taking on Republican incumbents. "Our view is the best strategy on RINOs is not to have them elected in the first place," says David Keating, the group's executive director. In practice that means that the Club for Growth, like most political givers, prefers to fund candidates competing for an open seat, where there's no incumbent advantage to overcome. RINOs may [arguably] be dying out, but the Club for Growth has done nothing to thin the herd.