Wednesday, February 28, 2007

Club for Growth, Main Street Alliance?

It would be wrong to say that the 2006 Republican primary in the 7th District was a battle between two wings of the Republican Party. Like the Democrats and others, the GOP is a lot more complicated than just two wings. You've got the libertarians (Ron Paul), the religious activists (Pat Robertson, James Dobson, etc.), the fiscal conservatives, the "drown the government in the bathtub" folks (Grover Norquist), the foreign policy hawks, and so many more. And then the moderates, who embody some of these groups but never completely, and even the occasional Lincoln Chafee. And most of the time, individual candidates are a mix of multiple groups.

That being said, I think most people would agree that in 2006, Joe Schwarz was the moderate, with support from the Republican Main Street Partnership, and Tim Walberg was the religious activist/"drown the government in the bathtub" candidate, with support from Right to Life and the Club for Growth.

So, imagine my surprise when I see that the Club and RMSP are, perhaps, joining together to fight the new Democratic majority. Could it be true that the two organizations that fought so bitterly last year have decided to make peace? Apparently so, according to The Politico.

Now, before taking it too seriously, check out two posts by Jonathon Singer here and here regarding the publication and this story. Still, there are some interesting things in the article.

The war of words reached its apex in the aftermath of the Michigan primary between Schwarz and Rep. Tim Walberg. Schwarz filed a complaint alleging Walberg used the same pollster as the Club for Growth -- an alleged violation of Federal Election Commission rules because the organization was supposed to be an independent expenditure. The Club for Growth countered by accusing Schwarz of colluding with the RMSP.

With former Rep. Charlie Bass (N.H.) now at RMSP's helm, relations may well be improving. Bass said he is eager to put past primary battles behind him and develop a constructive working relationship.

"Now that Republicans are now in the minority, we both agree it's best to cooperate and coordinate with each other," Bass said.

That's the key argument of the article-- that it's better to fight the Democrats than each other-- sounds like sound political reasoning on their part, but I have trouble believing it'll happen. There's too much separating the Joe Schwarz's and the Tim Walbergs, and too much anger left over from that and other races.

The article continues:

Bass said that the RMSP will not challenge Walberg in the Republican primary, even if Schwarz runs again. The group's policy is never to challenge an incumbent, regardless of the incumbent's ideological position.

In contrast, the Club for Growth has actively targeted Republicans who strayed from a tax-cutting agenda. Its financial firepower makes the group a looming threat -- its PAC spent about $2.7 million to favored candidates in 2006.

(Emphasis added.)

That's important. The Club for Growth has perfected the art of challenging moderates, and I find it hard to believe they'll change their ways next election cycle, not after proving their power here. Any truce between the Club and the moderates is short-lived at best.

More significant, though, is that if Schwarz runs again, the Main Streeters won't help him.

If Schwarz runs, he's got three options. He could run as a Democrat, leaving the party he's been part of for decades and alienating some of the folks that supported him the two previous races. He could run as an independent, still leaving his party and also having no party structure to support him, but without the mess that is the GOP primary. Or, he could run as a Republican challenger to Walberg in the primary. But to do that, he'd go against a different Tim Walberg-- one with all the powers of incumbency plus the Club's backing. With the RMSP staying out, Schwarz would have... himself.

I like Joe Schwarz a lot, even though I disagree with him often. This is a tough position he's in, and makes his choices this year all the more interesting to watch.

As for the Democrats who are looking to run against Walberg, here's what this means: don't count on a moderate-conservative split in 2008. Walberg could go into November with the full support of his party, and all the out-of-state money the Club for Growth can give him. He can certainly be defeated, but it'll take a lot of hard work.

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In primaries, RMSP only supports incumbents and candidates in open seats. Joe Schwarz is not dumb enough to overlook that fact. I cannot imagine him wanting to go through another republican primary. I also don't understand why anyone would want to go through a democrat primary in Michigan's 7th district. Ask Campbell, Strack or Drew Walker about how fun that trial is on a candidate. Our two-party system is broken and the 7th Congressional seat in Michigan is a perfect case-study of the faults.

Schwarz should run as an independant. I will vote for him whatever he decides, but an indepedent run is one I could support publically, vocally and rabidly.
Charlie Bass must be a complete idiot if he thinks their is any redeeming quality in the Club for Growth. Since Walberg is a complete idiot perhaps they were made for each other. CFG is nothing but a bunch of plutocrats who have nothing better to do than stick their noses into elections they have no logical reason to support. If he is trying to hold out an olive branch then it certainly is all about money. Which is another reasons these 527's have to be abolished.

RMSP finding common ground with CFG is like Bush finding common ground with Osama Bin Laden. I smell a rat in all this.
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