The Club for Growth is a national organization that advances prosperity and economic growth by promoting economic freedom and limited government. Each year it ranks federal lawmakers on how well they follow these principles on its scorecards. (For a look at how current Kansas Congressman and Senate hopefuls Todd Tiahrt and Jerry Moran ranked on the scorecard, see Club for Growth gives slight nod to Tiahrt over Moran.)
The Club for Growth Political Action Committee (PAC) endorses candidates for the United States House of Representatives and Senate. According to communications director Mike Connolly, the PAC usually endorses from 12 to 20 candidates each election cycle, he said. This year the PAC has endorsed 13 candidates so far, including two in Kansas.
Connolly said the PAC endorses candidates who share a belief in principles of limited government, economic freedom, and individual responsibility. It does not consider social issues when deciding which candidates to endorse.
The Club for Growth PAC does not make endorsements in all contests, Connolly said. It looks for candidates who it believes will be solid fiscal conservative leaders when they get to Congress. It also looks for contests where the PAC can have an impact. In districts where no candidates are in step with the Club for Growth’s principles, it makes no endorsement. With 55,000 members across the country, limited government conservatives view a Club for Growth PAC endorsement as a reliable stamp of approval, Connolly added.
In Kansas, with three open House seats and one open Senate seat, the Club for Growth PAC has made two endorsements. It is possible that the PAC could make other endorsements in Kansas — both the third House district in northeast Kansas and the United States Senate campaigns are vigorously contested — but as the August primary nears, that becomes less likely.
In the race for Republican Party nomination for United States Congress from the first district of Kansas, the Club for Growth PAC endorsed farmer and Kansas Senator Tim Huelskamp of Fowler.
David Ray, the Huelskamp campaign manager, said that Huelskamp’s record on fiscal issues like spending and taxes that are important to the Club for Growth PAC is “absolutely stellar.” He also said that a reason the PAC endorsed Huelskamp is that one of his opponents, physician and Kansas Senator Jim Barnett of Emporia, has not upheld principles of fiscal responsibility. It is not known whether Barnett sought the PAC’s endorsement.
In the fourth district of Kansas, centered around the Wichita metropolitan area, the Club for Growth PAC endorsed Wichita businessman Mike Pompeo.
Pompeo said that he viewed the Club for Growth PAC’s endorsement as a “good housekeeping seal of approval” for candidates who are committed to limited government, less regulation, and growing economies by getting government out of the way.
Pompeo said he participated in an interview and that the PAC investigates the backgrounds of candidates thoroughly. He also said that he’s one of the few candidates endorsed by the PAC without a voting record, the usual benchmark for making endorsements. He said that his experience and commitment to the principles of the Club for Growth PAC earned the endorsement.
He also said that Wichita businessman Wink Hartman, the leading contender besides Pompeo, sought the Club for Growth PAC endorsement.
At the Club for Growth PAC website, you may read its endorsements of Tim Huelskamp and Mike Pompeo. The Barnett and Hartman campaign offices did not return telephone calls requesting comment for this story.
Update: Scott Paradise, the Hartman campaign manager, said that Hartman met with the Club for Growth PAC, but did not seek its endorsement. Paradise characterized the Club for Growth PAC as a special interest group, saying the Hartman campaign decided not to seek contributions from such groups. The Club for Growth believes it works to advance prosperity and opportunity for everyone equally through economic freedom and personal liberty.