USA Today is reporting that the right wing special interest group Club for Growth “is planning to inject at least $2.5 million into the Wisconsin Senate race to help Republican Sen. Ron Johnson.” Johnson’s vulnerability has so far led him to refuse to accept Russ Feingold’s Badger Pledge that would keep outside spending from groups like the Club for Growth out of Wisconsin.
But the Club for Growth doesn’t just throw their money at any candidate who asks. The Club for Growth is notorious for their rigorous and demanding candidate endorsement process that requires a lengthy in-person interview process, and the USA Today story explains that the Club “selected Johnson’s race as one of four Senate contests in which the group plans to get involved.”
That’s right – Ron Johnson won’t accept the Badger Pledge because he is literally meeting, face-to-face, with the very same outside special interest groups that are rushing to boost his campaign and spend millions in an attempt to buy this election for him.
“Ron Johnson has always gone to bat for outside special interest groups while leaving Wisconsin families hanging out to dry, and now it’s clear that he’s getting his reward for that misplaced loyalty,” said Sadie Weiner, DSCC National Press Secretary. “With Johnson’s campaign in serious trouble, he is desperate for these groups to spend on his behalf. As long as Ron Johnson is meeting with outside groups to grovel for their endorsement and their money, it’s clear that he will never swear off outside money and sign the Badger Pledge.”
Politico: “No Organization Matches The Intensity Of The Club’s Endorsement Process.” “Among the conservative outside groups that have shaken up GOP politics over the past half-decade, no organization matches the intensity of the Club’s endorsement process.” [Politico, 4/7/14]
- Club For Growth’s Interview And Vetting Process Has Been “Described As Intrusive, Even Offensive, In Its Scope.” “About half a dozen hopefuls tramp through the Club’s offices in downtown Washington each week to plead for the group’s support, subjecting themselves to an interview and vetting process that several described as intrusive, even offensive, in its scope. Doug Hoffman, whom the Club endorsed for Congress as a Conservative Party candidate from New York in 2010, called the experience a ‘baptism by fire.’ Another — a Republican who won the support of other national conservative and tea party groups, but not the Club — used less flattering terms for his interlocutors. ‘They’re not even pleasant,’ the Republican said: ‘I went in there and was already playing defense. It was very prosecutorial.’” [Politico, 4/7/14]
- Club For Growth Requires An In-Person Interview, Which One Congressional Candidate Described As Lasting Two Hours. “The California congressional candidate sat patiently for two hours as the questions just kept coming. His soft-spoken, bearded inquisitor took handwritten notes as he probed every aspect of the candidate’s past: where he had lived, the schools he attended, his grades, any run-ins with authority. The only thing missing from the interrogation was a naked bulb swinging from the ceiling. For David Harmer, a cerebral banking compliance attorney running an underdog House race, the scrutiny was worth it: At the end of the process, he was a Club for Growth candidate. […] In any race, the Club insists on an in-person interview with a candidate before issuing an endorsement.” [Politico, 4/7/14]
Candidates “Keep Lining Up For The Hazing” Because Club For Growth Has Spent Millions Supporting Its Candidates.“There’s a reason why candidates keep lining up for the hazing: Club for Growth Action spent $17 million supporting candidates last cycle, according to finance reports. That doesn’t include the hundreds of thousands of earmarked dollars from Club supporters that pour into favored candidates’ campaign accounts.” [Politico, 4/7/14]