This week, the Club for Growth declared victory as incumbent Rep. Wayne Gilchrest lost the Republican primary to the Club’s handpicked candidate. The Club’s PAC, which has carved out a niche for itself with right-wing primary challenges, spent more than $600,000 on the race, mostly with TV ads calling Gilchrest a “liberal.”
But the Club for Growth, known for its hard-line supply-side economics, wasn’t the only outside group giving a boost to challenger Andy Harris. “It is imperative that Dr. Harris win this contest!” declared Focus on the Family founder James Dobson, who trumpeted right-wing complaints about Gilchrist.
“He voted against the constitutional amendment (on) marriage; he voted to allow homosexuals to adopt children; he had been pro-abortion,” Maryland state Sen. Alex Mooney told Family News in Focus.
This isn’t the first time the Club for Growth and Dobson have joined forces: the duo also backed a right-wing primary challenge in 2006 that ousted incumbent Rep. Joe Schwarz—who, like Gilchrest, had the backing of President Bush. Dobson crowed that the upset would “send a mighty signal that the days of anti-family, liberal Republicans are finally over.” Former Sen. Lincoln Chafee, another Club for Growth target, accused the economic group of having a hidden social agenda in its choice of candidates and targets.
If so, it would only mirror the Religious Right, whose definition of “values voter” expands as needed to fit the GOP’s platform. In a recent appearance on MSNBC together, Family Research Council President Tony Perkins and Club for Growth President Pat Toomey were in full agreement on the importance of the “three-legged stool.” “For [the] Republican Party to win they must have a conservative candidate who brings together the conservative coalition: fiscal conservatives, defense conservatives, and social conservatives,” said Perkins.