The Club for Growth is a DC-based right-wing organization that targets "squishy" Republicans with primary challenges from the right.
In 2004, they spent $2 million funding Pat Toomey's primary challenge to Senator Arlen Specter (R-PA). Toomey lost, but he became the Club's president. In 2006, they spent over a million bucks funding Steve Laffey's primary challenge to Senator Lincoln Chaffee (R-RI), who later lost to Sheldon Whitehouse.
Despite going 0-for-2 in US Senate primary races, the Club has notched a few impressive wins in the US House. In 2006, they knocked off GOP Congressman Joe Schwarz (R-MI) with evangelical minister Tim Walberg - and they helped Bill Sali win a Congressional seat in Idaho.
So, what does all this have to do with Gordon Smith?
More interesting is that the Laffey vs. Chaffee campaign turned into a proxy battle between the Club for Growth and a group called the Republican Main Street Partnership. The Club filed an FEC complaint against the RMSP, while the RMSP has said that "deception and division are the hallmarks of a Club for Growth campaign." There are only six Senators listed as members of the RMSP, and yup - Gordon Smith is one of 'em.
So, if you're paying close attention to Gordon Smith, you might want to pay close attention to the Club for Growth. It sure would be interesting if the Club showed any signs of life out here in Oregon.
Well, I'll be damned. The Club for Growth just announced the opening of an Oregon affiliate - Club for Growth Oregon. The director is named Dylan Amo - and here's what he told the Oregon Catalyst blog:
For too long, elected officials who claim to be fiscal conservatives have cast aside their beliefs to partake in a bloated government that insists on taking more and more from hard working families trying to achieve the American Dream. ... To instill greater integrity today, we're launching Club for Growth Oregon to put an end to these games. For us, playtime is over!
That was on March 6th.
And less than three weeks later? Bill Sizemore is thinking out loud about challenging Gordon Smith.
As I write this, the Club's big annual conference is getting underway in Palm Beach, Florida. Do you think Gordon Smith could be a major topic of conversation?
I wouldn't be surprised.