Super PAC to Protect ‘True Conservatives’

Monday, 15 Apr 2013 08:26 AM

By John Gizzi

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The latest super PAC — Restore Our Republic — says its mission is to back “true conservatives” in House races, setting up a possible counterweight to the influence of Karl Rove’s American Crossroads.

Former Republican Rep. Jeff Landry of Louisiana recently launched the super PAC and left little doubt that the new group will be taking on the former Bush aide, whose own influential super PAC says it will oppose Republican candidates in primaries that they deem too extreme.

The purpose of his super PAC, Landry told me, is to “preserve and protect our true conservatives in the House of Representatives and, where possible, to expand our ranks.”

Editor's Note: Dangerous Dealings Between Obama, Bernanke, Special Interests

Independent expenditure committees, the official name for super PACs, can accept any amount of personal or corporate money to spend independently on a candidate’s behalf.

In spelling out the vision of Restore Our Republic PAC, Landry could become a major player in the 2014 political battles between the tea party and establishment wings of the Republican Party. The GOP primaries in many races will surely feature the super PACs of Landry and Rove as top-flight pugilists.

“This super PAC has been a dream of mine for some time,” said Landry, who lost his bid for a second term last fall after his former district was merged into the same turf as fellow Republican Rep. Charles Boustany.

Both lawmakers sported similar voting records, although Landry voted against lifting the debt ceiling and Boustany voted to raise it. Landry was also a favorite of the local tea party groups, as well as national conservative groups such as FreedomWorks.

While the American Conservative Union gave them fairly equal ratings — Boustany, a 91 out of 100 rating, and Landry, a 96 — other conservative groups showed a greater difference between the two Republicans on their scorecards. Landry’s lifetime score with Club for Growth is 91 and Boustany’s is 69, and Landry scored 81 with the Heritage Action Fund compared to Boustany’s rating of 63.

As to precisely what kind of conservatives Restore Our Republic plans to support, the Louisianan replied that “my idea of a conservative is someone who embraces the U.S. Constitution and its functions fully.”

“That means someone who can go to Washington, D.C., without becoming co-opted and voting to raise the debt ceiling, or expand the budget, or the role of the federal government outside the Constitution. I realize that can well happen, as you saw with Republicans in Congress while [George W.] Bush was president,” said Landry.

The past two elections cycles have seen plenty of examples of bitter battles in Republican primaries.

In 2010, current GOP superstars Sens. Marco Rubio of Florida and Rand Paul of Kentucky were initially opposed by party leaders in favor of more establishment types.

Editor's Note: Dangerous Dealings Between Obama, Bernanke, Special Interests

In a highly controversial move last year, a PAC backed by House Majority Leader Eric Cantor of Virginia and House Majority Whip Kevin McCarthy of California helped freshman Rep. Adam Kinzinger win in an Illinois district over fellow GOP Rep. Don Manzullo.

Landry said he wants to support “top-of-the-line conservatives” and named as examples former Republican Reps. Joe Walsh of Illinois and Ann Marie Buerkle of New York.

Both won their first-ever races when they came to Congress in 2010 with fervent tea party support. Both defied the House Republican hierarchy on the debt-ceiling vote, and both were defeated in 2012.

“With Restore our Republic, perhaps courageous congressmen like those two would have survived,” said Landry.

John Gizzi is the former political editor for Human Events, working for the conservative weekly from 1979 to 2013. Gizzi is a recipient of the William A. Rusher Award for Journalistic Excellence, was named Journalist of the Year by the Conservative Political Action Conference in 2002, and has appeared on hundreds of radio and TV talk shows.

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