An Idaho congressional race has become a key battleground in the face-off between establishment and anti-establishment Republicans.
In an attempt to tar its rival with an ideology-bending linkage, Defending Main Street is trying to tie Bryan Smith, the Tea Party challenger to GOP Rep. Mike Simpson, to — of all people — House Democratic leader Nancy Pelosi of California.
“Meet the DC insider launching misleading attacks about Mike Simpson,” the ad says.
Then, the ad plays a clip of Club for Growth president Chris Chocola saying, “The person I respect the most in Washington might surprise you: It’s Nancy Pelosi.”
The narrator continues: “His group spends more money trying to defeat Republicans than defeating Democrats. … And while personal injury attorney Bryan Smith and his financial backers help Pelosi, Mike Simpson is Nancy Pelosi’s worst nightmare.”
(Not to be outdone, Smith’s supporters are also trying to tie Simpson to Pelosi. We looked at that ad separately.)
In this fact-check, we’ll review Club for Growth’s record in recent campaigns and see whether the ad accurately portrays what Chocola said about Pelosi.
What is the Club for Growth?
The Club for Growth has supported candidates who are focused on lowering taxes and easing regulations.
The club has frequently ruffled feathers within the Republican establishment by endorsing primary challengers to GOP incumbents and by pushing Republicans further to the right in order to head off intra-party competition. For example, in Indiana’s 2012 primary, the club supported Richard Mourdock over longtime Republican Sen. Richard Lugar (Mourdock won the primary but lost the general election). Last year, the club strongly backed the government shutdown to defund Obamacare.
In this campaign cycle, they’ve pumped more than $100,000 into Idaho to help Smith oust Simpson in the primary, according to the Center for Responsive Politics.