JEFFERSON CITY, Mo. – Club for Growth experienced a substantial loss on primary day, dumping more than $500,000 against four incumbents, all of whom were reelected. Rep. Nate Walker (R-Kirksville), Rep. Jeff Messenger (R-Republic), Lyle Rowland (R-Cedarcreek), and Rep. Paul Fitzwater (R-Potosi) succeeded in their primary bids for reelection despite the heavily funded campaigns in opposition. The organization is touting its smaller dollar support to winning candidates and long list of endorsements as its successes of the night.
Despite the loss of the four challengers, Club for Grown says they are proud of their work and their successes on many other endorsed campaigns, including Dr. Bob Onder, Sen. Dan Brown, Jay Ashcroft, Kevin Corlew, and Reps. Mike Lair, Tom Hurst, Kurt Bahr, Holly Rehder, and Mike Moon.
“The Missouri Club for Growth PAC is proud of its work during this election cycle in helping true conservative candidates throughout this state get elected and reelected,” Missouri Club for Growth Political Action Fund Chairman Bev Randles said. “The organization is also proud of its efforts to hold accountable office holders who claim to be conservative, yet refuse to vote according to those principles. It is because of this organization’s willingness to hold elected officials accountable that this year the Missouri Legislature finally enacted long-delayed tax reform. The Missouri Club for Growth PAC will continue to stand with everyday citizens in this state and work diligently to help true fiscal conservatives seek and retain office.”
The liberal activist group and frequent opponents of MCG, Progress Missouri, released a statement on the loss, highlighting the amount spent against the four incumbents, who were members of a group highlighted by the United for Missouri’s “Wall of Shame.” The fifteen representatives did not vote to override the governor’s veto of a HB253 last year. Progress Missouri targeted billionaire philanthropist Rex Sinquefield, the primary funding provider for MCG.
“Sinquefield spent a staggering $503,338 this summer through his Club for Growth PAC front group to exact revenge on Representatives Paul Fitzwater, Nate Walker, Jeff Messenger, and Lyle Rowland for refusing to sign off on a risky, radical tax scheme in 2013,” said Sean Nicholson of Progress Missouri.
Though most of the successes of Club for Growth will not experience tough primaries, Jay Ashcroft and Kevin Corlew have competitive general election competition. On November 4, Ashcroft will be going up against Rep. Jill Shupp, who is said to be potentially more attractive to moderate voters, while Corlew is up against Democrat Stephanie Isaacson, who is working very hard in a district that was formerly held by Democratic form Rep. Jason Grill.
Rachael Herndon was the editor at The Missouri Times and also produced This Week in Missouri Politics, published Missouri Times Magazine, and co-hosted the #MoLeg podcast. She joined The Missouri Times in 2014, returning to political reporting after working as a campaign and legislative staffer.
Rachael studied at the University of Missouri – Columbia. She lives in Jefferson City with her husband, Brandon, and their two children.