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The Shrinking Club for Growth

If you look at which Republicans voted for the Senate bill to end the shutdown and raise the debt ceiling, you can see which Republicans fear that they could lose their seats to Democrats in November and also which ones have their heads screwed onto the rest of their bodies.  But there are two interesting Republican votes that tell a story about the declining influence of the Club for Growth, the group that has taken pride in using its scorecard and the threat of being primaried to force errant Republicans into line.  Prior to the vote, the Club issued a “key vote alert” warning that it was going to penalize House members on its scorecard for failing to vote “no” on the Reid-McConnell plan.  In the past, that kind of warning has resulted in pliant behavior from House members.

If you look at the Club’s web site, and take note of the Club’s endorsements in the 2014 election, there are only two:  Arkansas Congressman Tom Cotton who is running for Senate against Democrat Mark Pryor and Bryan Smith who is challenging Idaho Congressman Mike Simpson in the Idaho Republican primary.  The Club boosted Cotton in 2012 in his race for congress and made his 2014 senate campaign a top funding priority.   You probably already see where I am going with this.  

Cotton voted for the Reid-McConnell bill.  That suggests that is less worried about the Club's wrath than he is about Arkansas general elections who might not cotton his having opposed a bill to open back the government and prevent a fiscal meltdown. (And it might also suggest a modicum of good sense.) Simpson also voted for the bill.  That suggests he refuses, unlike other candidates, to be cowed by the Club’s threat. The Club virtually invented and has been the prime financial backer of Simpson’s opponent, who earlier attacked Simpson for refusing to support the shutdown.  

These two votes show that the shutdown – and the political effects of it – have damaged the Club for Growth and probably, too, the other Lemming-like organizations like FreedomWorks and Heritage Action that have been leading the Republican charge into the sea.