Saturday, October 21, 2006
ID-01: Club For Growth Bails Out Endangered SaliPosted by James L.
Man oh man; I love it when an extremist Republican scheme backfires, especially when we're talking about the dogmatic anti-government agenda of the Club For Growth. Knowing that their extremist politics could only stand the chance of finding recognition in the most conservative of districts, the Club For Growth targeted primaries in solid Republican districts like NV-02 (R+7.5), NE-03 (R+23.6), and CO-05 (R+15.7), backing the most rigidly conservative and anti-government candidates they could find. The only problem, though, is that the Club has picked less than top-shelf candidates to act as their ideological flag-bearers in deep Republican territory. In Idaho's 1st district, as everyone knows by now, CFG members funneled $350k to onesuch flawed candidate, state Rep. Bill Sali, and spent an additional $133k on independent expenditure ads to help him eke out an underwhelming 26% victory in a crowded Republican primary back in May.
The story was supposed to end there. The Republican primary was supposed to be the real election, given that this district delivered nearly 70% of its vote to Bush in 2004. But an energetic and committed core of local Democratic activists and organizers were not willing to let an embarrassment like Sali become their next voice in Washington, and rallied around the upstart candidacy of Larry Grant, a respected local business leader. (The netroots entered the fray in August.) And with Sali's divisive and unproductive reputation preceding him, Sali has failed to gain much traction.
With several polls showing Grant nipping at Sali's heels, the NRCC has dumped almost $200k into this state in order to prevent a Democratic rout in Idaho, according to the latest FEC filings. And they're not done yet: the Club For Growth has scurried back into the fray, pumping in an emergency transfusion of $180k for oppositional TV ads against Grant earlier today. And knowing the Club For Growth, they're going to be leaving their kid gloves at home. Grant is within striking distance of costing them a crucial ally in the House, and they're not happy about it.
The Republican scramble to defend this GOP bastion is nothing short of remarkable in a district this red, but Grant is in danger of having his message swamped out by the NRCC and the Club For Growth. If I were running expenditures at the DCCC, I wouldn't pass this opportunity up. A candidate as bad as Sali is just too rare of an opportunity to let slip away. All the DCCC has to do is run an ad or two featuring Republican testimonials of Sali. Here are a few choice examples:
• "That idiot is just an absolute idiot. He doesn’t have one ounce of empathy in his whole fricking body." (GOP Speaker of the Idaho House, Bruce Newcomb)
• "I would not and do not and cannot endorse a liar for Congress." (GOP Canyon County commissioner Robert Vasquez).
Alternately, one could just quote Sali himself:
• "With deep thinking and memory recall, I start getting real bad brain fade, and definitely some speech problems," placed side by side with his claim that "[for] much of the time in the Legislature, critical-thinking skills are not necessarily needed."
Bill Sali: his entire political career is a negative advertisement waiting to be written.
UPDATE: Whoa! It looks like Larry is two steps ahead of me. Check out this blistering attack ad hosted by the DCCC here. It hits on everything I wanted to see.
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Yeah, we had to keep our powder dry and our cash conserved, but this is a great ad, eh?! Glad you like it. As everyone says, it pretty much wrote itself - or Sali's Republican foes wrote it for us, more accurately.
At least we stand behind our own ads. One big problem with the new CFG ad: It cites onscreen that its claims come from Project Vote Smart, which is a big no-no since PVS doesn't allow its data to be used for negative ads. I am just about to post about this on our campaign blog at www.grassrootsforgrant.com. I'll come back with a link in a little bit.
Thank you for your continuing attention to this race!!!
As promised, my write-up of the CFG's violation of Proejct Vote Smart policy
With luck, this will get some national attention since the CFG is active in many other races.
For what an example is worth, I have extended cousin who happens to live in ID-1 and they are very conservative and they are voting GRANT because the Club for Growth interfered in the primary which was perceived as interfering with the right of Idahoans to select who will represent them. These are relatives who think Judge Roy MOORE is just what America needs on the Supreme Court mind you. The Club for Growth is anti farm subsidy and when they enter conservative rural districts that does not play well, the Dems have hopefuly realized by now . That is the achillies heel of the Club for Growth, they play better in Rhode Island than Idaho. Their laissez faire economic policies turn many conservative populists off.
I will get back in contact with them with the news of the Club for Growth's latest intrusion. As any good relative would. Family Values :)
This cycle the Club for Growth seems to be influencing where the Exxon/Mobil PAC spends money, as well.
Exxon/Mobil normally devotes most of their largesse to protecting incumbents
(including a few Democratic incumbents, I am sorry to say).
Each cycle they do select a handful (- less than a dozen, sometimes fewer -) of challengers to support.
When they do support a challenger or a candidate for a seat that's open, they invariably support a Republican.
Republicans who were not yet in office, but who received campaign donations from Exxon/Mobil,
have included Jim Talent and some other folks who did get in and turned out to be obnoxious.
This year's FEC filings from Exxon/Mobil PAC (which you can pull up for yourself on Political Moneyline)
show them supporting more non-incumbents than usual.
What I noticed on my most recent review was the suspiciously high percentage of
Republican candidates on Exxon/Mobil's political payroll who are extremists endorsed by the Club for Growth..
I'm pretty sure that's new. Exxon/Mobil has historically backed old-fashioned corrupt corporatists.
Ken DeLay was a prime example.
They have not necessarily backed ideological extremists unless they also fit that other profile:
Republicans who will do anything for money.
This year's Exxon beneficiaries include the following Club-sponsored candidates who are not yet in (Congressional) office:
Rick O'Donnell (CO-07) $10,000
William T. Sali (ID-01) $ 2,000
Michele Bachmann (MN-06) $ 2,000
Adrian Smith (NE-03) $ 4,000
John G. Gard (WI-08) $ 7,500
A new Axis of Evil? Club for Growth and Exxon/Mobil?
I may cross-post this observation to Daily Kos.
Even though my rosters are otherwise closed for this cycle, I just added Larry Grant to my ActBlue page at
That was a very effective ad, because in this incredibly red district, Grant's going to need a whole hell of a lot of Republican and Independent votes to win.
I dont know if Grant is going to be able to pull of the upset here or not, but the mere fact that he made the CFG and GOP dump hundreds of thousands of dollars here is spactacular.
In the race prediction thread, I had Sali by 4 just on the fact that, come on, this is ID-01. But that ad against Grant (and I dont think CFG's attack ad will stick) and the strong newspaper endorsement bode well for this race.
I thought this story seemed familiar, and then I realized why-- the same thing is happening here in MI-07!
Club for Growth-sponsored Tim Walberg defeated incumbent Congressman Joe Schwarz (R) in the primary, 53-47. CfG pulled out, and Walberg treated the general election like it would be his coronation. Then, Democratic nominee Sharon Renier-- who's been working every moment of every day, it seems like-- pulled within 8 percent of Walberg in a poll, with 77 percent of likely voters not even knowing who she is.
Now, she's on the air with some television ads and a lot of new yard signs, and Roll Call changed its ranking of the race to "in-play". The Club for Growth, nervous, sent out a new fundraising appeal to its members, as reported by the Jackson Citizen-Patriot.