June 22, 2024

The Primary Race That Will Define Next Congress

For the approaching weeks, the Fifth Congressional District of the commonwealth of Virginia can be a proxy for the broader battle going down throughout the Republican social gathering within the nation’s capital.

In the June 18 main, voters within the Fifth, which spans from Charlottesville south by way of Lynchburg all the way in which to the state line, will select between the incumbent Rep. Bob Good (R-VA), chairman of the House Freedom Caucus, or his challenger, Virginia state senator and former Navy SEAL John McGuire III for this protected purple seat. 

The factions vying for affect within the GOP have drawn stark battle traces. The former President Donald Trump endorsed McGuire in a prolonged submit on Truth Social.

“Bob Good is BAD FOR VIRGINIA, AND BAD FOR THE USA. He turned his back on our incredible movement, and was constantly attacking and fighting me until recently, when he gave a warm and ‘loving’ Endorsement – But really, it was too late. The damage had been done! I just want to MAKE AMERICA GREAT AGAIN, and the person that can most help me do that is Navy Seal and highly respected State Legislator, John McGuire, a true American Hero,” the submit learn partly.

McGuire additionally has the support of the previous House Speaker Kevin McCarthy’s allies, together with quite a lot of different gamers who work on behalf of the extra average portion of the GOP convention.

“Former Speaker Kevin McCarthy is on a revenge tour (after he quit on the American people and left the House) because I held him accountable for his actions,” Good informed The American Conservative. “He is raising millions of dollars to try and defeat me and other courageous conservatives by recruiting candidates who will do what the Swamp tells them to do NOT what the people want them to do.”

Under assault, Good boasted of his conservative bona fides. When the previous president endorsed McGuire, Good launched a press release touting two dozen endorsements from figures comparable to the previous Trump White House chief of employees Mark Meadows, Senators Mike Lee (R-UT), Rand Paul (R-KY), and Rick Scott (R-FL), in addition to fellow Representatives Eli Crane (R-AZ), Matt Gaetz (R-FL), and Chip Roy (R-TX). 

Lee informed TAC that “not only has Bob Good been a tireless champion for the Constitution in the House of Representatives, standing against government mandates, working to secure America’s borders, and fighting to protect every precious human life, he is a great friend and patriot.”

“If we can’t send 435 of him to Congress, at least we can re-elect one Bob Good,” the Utah senator added. “Virginians are lucky to have him in their corner.”

Good additionally stated conservative teams, such because the Club for Growth, House Freedom Action (the PAC for the House Freedom Caucus), Heritage Action, Family Research Council PAC, Eagle Forum PAC, NRA, and Gun Owners of America have supported his work over his first two phrases in Congress. But with Trump coming into the fray, the Freedom Caucus chairman, who took on the function in January of this 12 months, is beneath severe menace.

The results of the upcoming election simply two weeks away in Old Dominion will carry profound implications for the steadiness of energy throughout the GOP come January 2025.

For a lot of the 118th Congress, the Freedom Caucus has acted boldly, incessantly asserting itself in tumultuous convention debates and dynamics. It has been a thorn within the facet of Republican management, which has successfully needed to preside over the convention extra akin to a coalition authorities in a European parliamentary system. When McCarthy tried to ascend to the speakership in January 2023, the members of the Freedom Caucus and their allies withheld their support with the intention to extract concessions on how McCarthy would preside over House enterprise. When Rep. Matt Gaetz of Florida spearheaded the hassle to take away McCarthy as speaker, Good, different members of the Freedom Caucus, and Freedom Caucus allies supported the maneuver.

After House Speaker Mike Johnson changed McCarthy, the Freedom Caucus has continued to place strain on management to drive the Biden administration to safe the southern border in change for passing appropriations or supplemental funding for wars in Ukraine and Gaza. At every flip, nevertheless, Republican management has ditched its coalition companion and courted Democratic support to cross appropriations, renew FISA, and supply one other $95 billion in supplemental overseas assist, principally for Ukraine.

As Republican management has seemingly develop into extra decided to chop out conservatives within the GOP convention, the conservatives and the House Freedom Caucus’s influence on shaping the day after day points on Capitol Hill has been minimized. Now, the easiest way for conservatives to reassert themselves is to win elections and improve their ranks. 

With Trump on the highest of the cardboard this November and conservative and Freedom Caucus candidates leaning into their America First credentials, nevertheless, the extra average factions of the social gathering are attempting to attenuate conservative’s electoral success. They’ve determined to try to minimize off the top of the snake by going after the Freedom Caucus chairman.

“I hate to see it,” Rep. Ralph Norman of South Carolina informed The American Conservative of the first problem towards Good. “I’ve supported Bob Good since he came to Congress. He’s head of my Freedom Caucus. He’s been a leader ever since he’s been there.”

“The president did what he thought was right,” Norman added, with a caveat. “A lot of the people, particularly South Carolina, that President Trump has endorsed are RINOs—the very ones that fight him every step of the way.”

“[Good] would have loved to have had the President’s endorsement, but it didn’t happen,” Norman stated.

“Endorsements give you a lot of publicity, they give you some momentum,” he continued. “But at the end of the day, it’s up to each candidate to have a message that matches their record. And Good’s record matches his rhetoric. I can’t say that about everybody.”

Yet Good has put himself in a troublesome place. He is among the many few House conservatives not solely to sq. up towards McCarthy, however the former president himself: Good got here out in support of Florida’s Gov. Ron DeSantis within the 2024 GOP main earlier than switching to Trump in January of this 12 months. Now Good is drumming up as a lot support from conservatives and conservative organizations as doable. McGuire has an enormous community of disparate pursuits, most of whom need to precise revenge on Good and the Freedom Caucus, engaged on his behalf.

As for the round firing squad forming in Virginia’s fifth district, Norman stated Republicans are “burning money that we don’t have.”

“That’s the controversy with Speaker Johnson,” Norman continued. “[Johnson] is a good man—he’s a Christian—but he just kowtowed and gave in to the Democrats. The spending that he agreed to was this was a spending plan that was orchestrated by Nancy Pelosi, Chuck Schumer, Mitch McConnell, and Hakeem Jeffries. One of the cancers in this country is the invasion at the border. We’ve been a constant voice in Mike Johnson’s ear to stop the immigration crisis right in its tracks. They just won’t do it.”

“To go after Bob Good, who’s been a true conservative, not in word, but in deed—I think it’s a travesty for the party,” Norman added. “I think it’s a travesty for anybody that really goes out on a limb for him.”

As it stands now, Good’s marketing campaign has raised simply over $850,000 to maintain his seat. Nearly $450,000 of that cash has been spent. About 20 % of Good’s contributions, $166,000 and a few change, come from small greenback donations of lower than $200. Nearly 70 % of the marketing campaign’s funds, almost $580,000, has come from giant particular person contributions. PACs have supplied one other $108,000.

From a pure campaigning perspective, Good has an enormous benefit over McGuire, who has raised simply lower than $500,000 and spent simply $150,000 and a few change. Less than $10,000 has come from small particular person contributions. McGuire has acquired $187,000 from particular person donations over $200, and $19,000 from PACs. Over 55 % of McGuire’s funding, which quantities to about $280,000, in keeping with Open Secrets, comes from “other” sources.

But expenditures from the 2 main candidates’ campaigns are a drop within the bucket in comparison with exterior spending. While exterior teams have spent over $1.6 million in support of Good, different teams have spent $2.7 million to oppose him. Meanwhile, exterior teams have spent slightly below $12,000 towards McGuire, and $720,000 has been spent on his behalf.

Outside groups spending cash on Good’s behalf embrace the Champions of Freedom PAC, the Club for Growth, Gun Rights America, the Protect Freedom PAC and the House Freedom Fund. Champions of Freedom, which has minimize an ad outlining how McCarthy is looking for revenge, has supported Good to the tune of simply over $57,000. Gun Rights America has given Good simply over $25,000, and Club for Growth has supplied simply over $10,000. Two of Good’s largest exterior supporters up to now are the Protect Freedom PAC and the Conservative Outsider PAC, which have contributed greater than $740,000 and $435,000, respectively.

Good has acquired an added enhance from the House Freedom Fund, simply over $94,000. With most caucus members comparatively protected, it’s wise that Good could be one of many prime recipients of its monetary support. (So far, House Freedom Fund has supplied substantial monetary support to not solely Good, however Republican Representatives Crane, Anna Paulina-Luna (FL), Lauren Boebert (CO), Scott Perry (PA), and the previous Rep. Yvette Herrell (AZ), all of whom will face robust primaries or generals.)

Nevertheless, there are some regarding indicators underlying the caucus’s marketing campaign equipment that would make Good and different members extra susceptible over the course of this election cycle. 

The House Freedom Fund has acquired $4.8 million in contributions, per FEC filings. Just over $1.3 million have gone in the direction of working expenditures. Meanwhile, simply over $1.2 million has been doled out in unbiased expenditures to candidates with the House Freedom Fund’s support. Another $2.5 million has been supplied to different committees related to these candidates. Combining unbiased expenditures with contributions to different committees, House Freedom Fund has a few 2:1 expenditures to operations spending ratio.

Meanwhile, House Freedom Action, a brilliant PAC that spends cash in races involving House Freedom Caucus candidates, has raised slightly below $1.4 million. Half of that complete, $702,000, has gone to working bills, whereas simply $401,000 have been spent on unbiased expenditures. The ratio of operations expenditures to unbiased expenditures is inverted. For each two {dollars} spent on operations, just one goes in support of a candidate.

“It is weird that the operating expenditures are $700,000 and independent expenditures are about $400,000. It’s usually the reverse of that,” a supply accustomed to Republican PAC operations and connections to House Freedom Fund and House Freedom Action informed TAC.

“Look at some of the bigger Super PACs, whether it be CLF or Club for Growth, or some of these other ones that spent half of that,” TAC’s supply continued. “They’re definitely pulling in more towards the independent expenditure column rather than the operating expenditures. It just seems like a lot of other vendors are padding their pockets.”

Ryan Girdusky, a contributing editor to TAC and founding father of the 1776 Project PAC, didn’t assume the present ratio of operations expenditures to unbiased expenditures was troublesome. “I don’t think it’s weird,” he stated. “They only have 1.4 million there. They could not give two to one because there’s not enough money there.”

“Overall, the whole thing is a low amount,” Girdusky stated.

A big chunk of House Freedom Fund and House Freedom Action’s working bills goes in the direction of the identical consulting firms. Bold Colors Group LLC, a consulting agency run by Matt Hoskins, a former chief of employees and coverage director for Sen. Jim DeMint, has been paid about $500,000 from House Freedom Fund and over $160,000 from House Freedom Action for “PAC fundraising services.” High Bridge Consulting, an Ohio-based consulting agency based by Michael Lord with staffers comparable to Ray Yonkura, Rep. Jim Jordan’s former chief of employees, has acquired $160,000 from House Freedom Fund and one other $160,000 from House Freedom Action. Concept 278, headed by Kristin Szafranski, the previous director of operations for the Senate Conservatives Fund, has been paid over $60,000 by House Freedom Fund and House Freedom Action respectively. Payments for each High Bridge and Concept 278 had been marked as “PAC strategy consulting.” Zealous LLC has additionally acquired tens of 1000’s of {dollars} from each the PAC and tremendous PAC for “digital consulting.”

Nevertheless, the acquainted supply stated, “You want to pay good people, and they want to be paid good for it.”

“The problem is when donors give their money, they’re expecting that we’re going to put this money in order to propel certain candidates to defeat or victory. That’s the whole goal, right?” the supply continued. “Any time your operating expenditures outweigh your independent expenditures, there’s just something off there. It’s not right.”

Meanwhile, exterior teams are additionally pouring cash into Virginia’s fifth district on behalf of McGuire. The American Patriots PAC, a gaggle began by McCarthy to support or oppose his chosen candidates, has spent over $1.4 million on getting Good out of Congress. The group, largely underwritten by Citadel’s Ken Griffin and Elliott Investment Management’s Paul Singer, has reportedly booked $3 million in commercials (an enormous sum) for the GOP main race in south-central Virginia. 

“The American Patriots PAC steadfastly supports veteran candidates who have dedicated themselves to our nation, and John McGuire exemplifies this commitment,” Griffin, who has supplied the PAC with over 80 % of its funds this cycle, informed Bloomberg. “It is with pride that I support the American Patriots PAC’s mission of bringing exemplary leaders into Washington.” (American Patriots PAC can be supporting Gaetz’s main challenger in Florida.)

Defending Main Street, a brilliant PAC that serves because the marketing campaign arm of the Republican Main Street Partnership, has spent over $450,000 on the hassle to main Good. The group was based in 2012 by the late Rep. Steve LaTourette of Ohio, an ally of the previous Speaker John Boehner, and sought to support institution Republicans from challenges from the Tea Party. Though LaTourette, who was recognized to confer with new colleagues in Congress from the Tea Party as “knuckle-draggers”, handed away in 2016, the group’s mission continues with a brand new deal with minimizing the affect of the House Freedom Caucus.

“Unfortunately, the Swamp is trying to strike back against me. I have a big target on my back because I am the Chairman of the House Freedom Caucus,” Good informed TAC. “The special interests in Washington and the big money elites from California know that I am not afraid to call out members of my own party when they are not doing what we promised the American people when they gave Republicans the majority.”

The involvement of teams like Defending Main Street within the Virginia Fifth main race raises questions on how teams with vastly disparate pursuits who occur to fall on the identical facet of a given race will handle to coordinate. Previously, Defending Main Street was one of many central opponents to Karoline Leavitt’s bid for New Hampshire’s first congressional district seat in 2022. Leavitt, a former Trump communications staffer, now serves because the Trump marketing campaign’s nationwide press secretary.

The battle between Leavitt and her backers and Defending Main Street obtained ugly. One advert produced by Defending Main Street stated, “[Leavitt] wants to bring her generation’s new vision to Congress. You know, mooching off her parents, [and] running up huge credit card debt.”

“The same Super PAC running negative ads personally attacking me is the same group who supported the weak Republicans that voted to impeach President Trump, so it’s no surprise they are spending millions to help Matt Mowers get to Washington,” Leavitt responded at the time. “Frankly, I am honored the D.C. Swamp is attacking me with these desperate personal smears because it means they know that I am the true conservative outsider in this race. They cannot buy this seat, and our grassroots movement will prevail on September 13th.”

McGuire’s supporters appear to be in a comparatively stronger monetary place. Defending Main Street has received over $2.6 million in contributions, and its unbiased expenditures to working expenditures is 2:1. While American Patriots PAC has spent simply over $100,000 on working expenditures and slightly below $65,000 on unbiased expenditures, American Patriots has received $7.2 million in contributions.

Despite the toplines, Norman is happy with Good’s management: “What Bob Good has done, as any good businessman does, is question: What’s your income—how much are you making—and how much are you spending on things that don’t go to the candidate?”

Good has additionally introduced extra transparency, Norman claimed: “He’s bringing it out in the open. Before Bob Good, nobody really knew what the expenses were. It was just kind of an area that we didn’t delve into. Now that he’s delved into it, some of the overhead costs are being questioned.”

“That’s the right thing to do,” he added. “Anybody that gives to any group owes an explanation of where their money goes, how it’s been used, and that’s what he’s been doing. I think that has ruffled some feathers.”

“I’m happy with his leadership and consider him a true conservative who will fight for America,” Norman summarized.

Crane additionally approves of Good’s management. “Not many people in this town are willing to take repeated hits by championing conservative policies for the sake of the people that sent them here, but that’s exactly what Bob does,” the Arizona congressman stated. “We need more of that.”

Despite his colleagues’ support, TAC’s supply stated it’s nonetheless a “bad look” for Good: 

The chair of the House Freedom Caucus is in such a bitter battle proper now and really properly may lose. Because of that, I believe they’re disproportionately making an attempt to guard Bob Good. Now, you’ve all of those different candidates which can be a part of the House Freedom Caucus which can be positively pro-Trump who aren’t getting the sources allotted to them as a result of Bob Good, the chair, is now absorbing all these sources as a result of he’s caught in a bitter main battle.

“At the end of the day, it’s a terrible ratio. It shouldn’t be happening,” the supply added.

Trump’s equipment is getting extra concerned within the race in a barely completely different means. Across the Fifth, drivers cross tons of Good and Trump yard indicators posted subsequent to one another exterior properties alongside the James Monroe Highway. Some of those yard indicators that function Good’s title beneath Trump’s have drawn the ire of Trump marketing campaign legal professionals since Trump endorsed McGuire. Trump marketing campaign legal professionals despatched a stop and desist letter to Good’s marketing campaign, which learn partly: “It has come to our attention that your campaign is producing yard signs purporting to indicated President Trump’s endorsement of your candidacy. You know this is false.”

“There’s obviously the fine line of compliance and what organizations and committees are able to do,” TAC’s supply claimed. How these completely different teams are trying to arrange and coordinate on this race stays an open query.

“First off, a lot of this stuff is made publicly available,” the supply stated. “So you have all that information, and then they’re able to adjust their spending based off of that. And now a lot of these organizations think ‘Okay, they’re hitting Bob Good on the Trump stuff,’ and then one organization might hit Bob Good or any candidate on a particular issue, so they’re flanking them from both sides.”

“PACs are allowed to coordinate—not with the candidate, but they can coordinate with each other for sure,” Girdusky informed TAC. Whether or not there are too many cooks within the kitchen stays to be seen. “I don’t know if they coordinated: ‘You do digital, you do broadcast, you do cable, you do mail, you hire a door-knocker.’”

“I don’t know how much the candidate has on them, but the candidate should be spending the money on commercial time, because candidates get a better purchasing power for commercials than PACs. So it would behoove them to have the candidate to pay for the commercials, and they pay for mailers, and door-knockers, and polling, and what not,” Girdusky continued. “They can’t coordinate that, obviously, but that’s what would be the most effective.”

Trump adopted up with a video message posted on social media reiterating his endorsement of McGuire. “Virginia—there is a big and very important Republican Primary Election on Tuesday, June 18th,” the previous president stated. “[McGuire] is an American hero who served as a Navy SEAL. John is a highly respected state legislator who is strong on the border—very, very strong—and very powerful in defeating the drug cartels, tough on crime, and will always defend our under siege—always under siege, and it is always under siege for whatever reason—Second Amendment.”

“John is running against Bob Good, who is actually bad for Virginia and who will stab you in the back like he did me,” Trump claimed.

Other teams, comparable to Heritage Action, aren’t getting too concerned within the main race. Though Good in a earlier assertion touted Heritage Action’s support, a Heritage Action spokesman informed TAC that “Heritage Action does not endorse candidates.” However, the spokesman did word that Good has a one hundred pc score on the group’s voting report card.

“It’s sad that, because of the decisions Bob Good made, by turning his back on Trump, House Freedom Fund, which is made up of a bunch of pro-Trump, America first people, resources are being pulled from members,” TAC’s supply claimed. Rather than spending cash on different candidates within the normal election, “they’re now having to spend money to protect Bob Good.”

Norman, nevertheless, nonetheless feels good in regards to the Freedom Caucus chairman’s probabilities.

“We went down to Virginia and campaigned with him for a day, Scott Perry and I. He’s got a solid base of people that like him,” Norman stated. “He feels confident, and we’ll wait for the returns to come in.”

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