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Club for Growth Warfare Style

by Jerry Bader

First, so there is no confusion, the group we're talking about here is the National Club for Growth, not Wisconsin Club for Growth. Politico did a piece Monday where it dissects the National Club's scorched earth policy of trying to get the Republican nominees it wants. Former U.S. Senate candidate Eric Hovde is quoted how he predicted what the Club's involvement in the 2012 primary would do; nominate Tommy Thompson.

The group backed seasoned candidate Mark Neumann early on, assuming it would be a two man race against Tommy Thompson, perceived by the Club as a moderate they wanted to defeat. They never re-calibrated when Hovde entered the race and smeared him mercilessly and unfairly. Full disclosure; I ultimately supported Eric Hovde and felt he was the strongest candidate in the field, not just the wealthiest. Hovde warned the Club their strategy would nominate Thompson, which it did, who then ran an uninspired campaign and lost to Democratic Congresswoman Tammy Baldwin.

Politico uses the word intransigent to describe Club. This is exactly right; they simply refused to be flexible to changing conditions. When Hovde entered the race they insisted on backing Hovde, even when Hovde's self-funding propelled him into a two way race with Thompson. Club is unapologetic for the disastrous primary backings it has made in Wisconsin and elsewhere.

I'm not a believer in telling national groups to butt out. They can spend their money wherever they want. But there's nothing wrong with telling Club that their vetting process is lacking. They believe on whole their efforts have produced more positive than negatives. The reality is Democrats still hold the Senate and will after November if Club doesn't change its ways.