Club for Growth Action, the super PAC associated with Club for Growth, reported spending $851,070 on three federal races in Alabama this week, the majority of which will go towards running ads on television.
Most notably, in the Republican primary runoff for the U.S. Senate, the group reported spending $196,409 in support of former Auburn University head football coach Tommy Tuberville.
Members of the Republican Party are often divided over Club for Growth. Many cite it as a bastion of fiscal conservatism and limited government principles; others say that the group’s opposition to President Donald Trump during the 2016 primaries and continuous objections to the Farm Bill prove that it is out of touch with key conservative constituencies.
The Club was an ardent supporter of Jeff Sessions while he was in the Senate, but earlier in 2020 decided to support Tuberville a few days after the former Auburn coach was endorsed by Trump. In contrast to the other primaries in the state, the PAC so far is refraining from attacking Sessions and instead solely focusing their resources on supporting Tuberville.
In addition to Tuberville, the group is backing former State Representative Barry Moore (R-Enterprise) and former State Senator Bill Hightower (R-Mobile) in the state’s two open congressional primaries.
The group often intervenes in primaries where they believe they can help elect a potential ally.
Notable Club for Growth-backed politicians are U.S. Senators Ted Cruz (R-TX), Mike Lee (R-UT) and Rand Paul (R-KY).
In the Republican primary runoff for Alabama’s Second Congressional District, the super PAC reported spending a total of $484,375 in the past week, with $383,842 of it going towards airing ads on television.
Barry Moore’s opponent in the AL-02 primary runoff is Dothan businessman Jeff Coleman, who has been endorsed by the Alabama Farmers Federation’s political arm.
In terms of Club for Growth money, $316,579 was spent opposing Coleman, and $167,796 was spent supporting Barry Moore.
In an email to supporters, Coleman’s campaign manager Dalton Dismukes criticized Moore for welcoming the group’s support, and described the Club For Growth as a special interest group made up of “a small group of disgruntled Never-Trumpers who are anti-farmer, pro-China, and weak on many other issues critical to our district.”
“The original never-Trump, anti-farmer Super PAC Club for Growth is up to their old swamp tactics again. It’s disturbing that Barry Moore would welcome this group into our state after they ran millions of dollars in attack ads against Donald Trump in 2016,” Dismukes stated. “[N]ot only has Club targeted our President, but they have also targeted the livelihood of our farmers and producers by routinely opposing the Farm Bill—and other critical needs that support farmers and agribusiness across our district.”
Jonathan Barbee, a consultant for Moore, said that it was “sad that Mr. Dismukes has already resorted to mudslinging,” and added, “Barry’s always supported farmers and agribusiness across District 2; he even grew up on a farm and has a degree in agriculture.”
The Club’s favorite candidate in Alabama, at least by money spent, appears to be Hightower in AL-01. The group has spent more than $1 million since the start of the 2020 cycle with the goal of getting Hightower elected, including $170,286 in the last week.
Hightower’s opponent on July 14 is Mobile County Commissioner Jerry Carl, who has also been endorsed by the Alabama Farmers Federation’s political arm. The entirety of Club’s spending in AL-01 during the past week has gone to opposing Carl’s campaign.
Additionally, Stephen Moore, a past president of Club for Growth and former economic adviser to President Donald Trump, endorsed Hightower this past week.
Carl called on Hightower to renounce the endorsement due to Moore’s alleged adulterous behavior and his “heinous comments” about women and minorities. Hightower did not respond to Carl, and called Moore a “Major Endorsement” in a Facebook post.
A representative in the communications department of Club for Growth did not immediately respond to Yellowhammer News’ request for comment.
The group’s ad supporting Tuberville focuses on Trump’s endorsement.
Club for Growth’s ads supporting Hightower focuses on the candidate’s record while an Alabama state senator, as well as his support for term limits.
Their ad opposing Carl zeroes in on a 2019 clip where Carl indicates favorability to raising the gas tax in Alabama.
Club’s ad supporting Moore focuses on the candidate’s early endorsement of then-candidate Trump.
Club For Growth Action’s ad(s) opposing Coleman have not yet been made publicly available.