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Conservative heavyweights plot new path

Thought Leader: Josh Kraushaar
January 22, 2023
Source: Axios

The conservative Club for Growth is emerging as one of the most consequential groups within Republican politics — and a textbook example of the GOP’s identity crisis in the post-Trump era.

Why it matters: The anti-tax group was closely aligned with former President Trump during his time in office despite his free-spending record. But the Club for Growth is now forging an independent path as a potential anti-Trump bulwark in the presidential race — while still championing establishment-bucking, MAGA-aligned candidates in Congress.

Context: It clashed with Trump last year in two high-profile Senate primaries in 2022, going up unsuccessfully against his endorsed primary picks in Ohio (J.D. Vance) and Pennsylvania (Mehmet Oz).

What they’re saying: “The majority of people I talked to worry we lost in 2018, 2020 and 2022, and that it’s time for a new standard bearer that believes and will fight for free-market principles,” McIntosh told Axios in an interview.

Driving the news: The Club for Growth cut a deal this month with the Kevin McCarthy-aligned Congressional Leadership Fund to prevent the super PAC from spending in open-seat primaries in safe Republican districts.

What to watch: The Club for Growth is now preparing for an all-out war against former Indiana Gov. Mitch Daniels in anticipation of his candidacy for the Senate.

Zoom out: It is also shaping up as a possible thorn in the side of other establishment-favored Republican Senate candidates.

Between the lines: Of the three races, Republican Senate officials are most worried about Rosendale’s potential candidacy costing them a valuable red-state Senate seat.

The bottom line: In the 2022 cycle, the Club for Growth’s super PAC, its affiliates and a 501(c)4 advocacy arm spent about $150 million in elections. McIntosh said he expects the nonprofit’s political groups to match or exceed that total in the 2024 campaign.

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