EXCLUSIVE: The leading outside group that supports congressional Republicans is taking a new step as it makes its first ever endorsements of House GOP candidates.
The Congressional Leadership Fund (CLF), which is closely aligned with House GOP leader Kevin McCarthy, announced on Wednesday that it’s backing 11 Republicans running in Democratic controlled or open seats, or districts newly created through reapportionment from the 2020 census.
The CLF, which shared its announcement first with Fox News, says the 11 candidates have earned the endorsement of its Trailblazers Fund. That’s the group’s hard-dollar arm which was set up last year to endorse and provide direct financial support to key Republicans in order to help the GOP win back the House majority it lost in the 2018 midterms. In setting up the Trailblazers fund, CLF reclassified itself as a hybrid PAC, allowing it to more directly communicate with and assist candidates.
McCarthy speaks at a press conference at the Capitol building on Aug. 27, 2021 in Washington. (Anna Moneymaker/Getty Images)
While Republicans lost control of the White House and the Senate in the 2020 elections, they defied expectations as they took a big bite out of the Democrats’ House majority. The GOP needs a net gain of just 5 seats in 435-member chamber in November’s midterms to recapture the majority.
“We need 5 seats to take back the House Majority and these trailblazers are the first group that will get the job done,” CLF president Dan Conston told Fox News in a statement. “Each of these 11 candidates have demonstrated they have exactly what it takes to earn the trust of voters and win in November.”
The 11 candidates are Juan Ciscomani in Arizona (AZ-06), Esther Joy King in Illinois (IL-17), Amanda Adkins in Kansas (KS-03), former Rep. Bruce Poliquin in Maine (ME-02), former Interior secretary and former Rep. Ryan Zinke in Montana (MT-01), Tom Kean, Jr. in New Jersey (NJ-07), Morgan Luttrell (TX-08), Monica De La Cruz (TX-15), and Wesely Hunt (TX-38) in Texas, Jen Kiggans in Virginia (VA-02), and Derrick Van Orden in Wisconsin (WI-03).
All but three of the 11 are on the initial list of Young Guns, a program set up by McCarthy in conjunction with the National Republican Congressional Committee (NRCC) to help promising GOP candidates running in competitive districts.
CLF says this is their first round of Trailblazers endorsements, and that additional candidates will be added to the list in the coming months. And it’s fair to say that the list is a good indicator of the districts where CLF is likely to spend money to run ads in autumn in the runup to the midterms.
The CLF, which is also endorsed by House GOP Whip Steve Scalise, highlights that it raised and spent more than $165 million across 54 targeted congressional races in the 2020 election cycle.
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