John Feehery: Speaking Engagements


Count Chocola

Posted on February 28, 2013

Count Chocola is at it again.

He is sucking Republican donor money and making it easier for Democrats to make progress in regaining their House majority.

Chris Chocola is the head of Club for Growth, an organization dedicated to draining away precious Republican resources in useless primary fights.

Last year, the CFG picked primary fights with guys like Fred Upton and Tim Murphy.  Both won their primaries, but had to spend millions of dollars that could have been spent elsewhere getting more Republicans elected.

Chocola’s organization just announced that they were going to take a swing at 9 House members who weren’t sufficiently conservative in the minds of CFG.

All of these members are pretty darn conservative.  Their ratings with the American Conservative Union are all impressive.  None of them are generally for higher taxes.  All of them support entitlement reform.  They are all in the mainstream of the Republican Party.

All of them will have to husband their resources now to protect against a primary.  Many of them will have to get help from the National Republican Congressional Committee rather than giving help to the NRCC to elect other Republicans.

Some of these districts reliably Republican, but others could turn to the Democrats if the wrong candidate is nominated.

The irony is that Chris Chocola, had he still been in Congress, would have been a target of Club for Growth.   His voting record wasn’t as reliably conservative as he likes to think he was.  I worked in the Whip Office, and while Chocola would vote with the Tom DeLay usually, there were times when he would vote his district.

According to National Journal, Chocola voted conservative about 86 percent of the time, roughly about the same record as Mike Simpson, Adam Kinzinger and the rest of the gang now targeted by CFB.

Chocola has become a born-again right-winger, which is all well and good.  I don’t begrudge somebody reinventing themselves post-Congress.  What I have a problem with is a former Congressman who turns his back on his former colleagues and then makes it harder for his party to keep the majority, as he condemns those colleagues for voting roughly the same way he would have voted.

There are stories floating around Washington about how Chocola urged his colleagues to vote to pass TARP in the House gym, just as his organization was targeting those same members for voting for the measure to save the financial industry from certain collapse.  I don’t know if those stories are accurate, but they come from pretty reliable sources.

I know that Barney Keller, who is Chocola’s top spokesman for COB, will hammer me in tweets etc. for being a RINO.  He will say that I supported Charlie Crist over Marco Rubio and Arlen Specter over Pat Toomey, which is not exactly true.

I did write columns, following the lead of the National Republican Congressional Committee and its Chairman John Cornyn, (who is not exactly a moderate) hoping upon hope that there wouldn’t be a divisive primary fight.  As it turned out, there weren’t primaries in either case, because both Specter and Crist left the party.  And I ended up supporting both Toomey and Rubio in the general elections and I am glad that both are in the Senate.

The COB likes to talk about Toomey and Rubio, but they like to forget about Christine O’Donnell, Richard Mourdock, Ken Buck, Sharron Angle, and Joe Miller.

Thanks to the Club for Growth, Democrats now hold seats in Delaware, Indiana, Colorado and Nevada, instead of solid Republicans who would have put Mitch McConnell much closer to being Majority Leader, and would have put Barack Obama much closer to the position of vetoing tax and entitlement reform, instead of giving Harry Reid the opportunity to snuff them out in their respective cradles.

I throw Joe Miller in there, because had the CFG been successful, Alaska would have had two Democratic Senators, not just one.  Lisa Murkowski had to fight like the dickens to keep her seat in an unlikely write-in effort.  Had she not done so, the Democrats would have won the seat.

Before going to CFG, Keller worked in those hotbeds of radical conservatism, the Massachusetts Republican Party and the Rick Lazio campaign.  That’s pretty rich, getting attacked by a guy with that kind of pedigree, for being a squish.

Just as rich as the Club for Growth attacking members of the Republican Majority for having voting records that are solidly center-right and that mirrors the voting record of the guy who runs the CFG.

I ran into Chocola in the Green Room at MSNBC the other day.  We had a pleasant chat.  He doesn’t get to Washington much, and he doesn’t get to his old district much either.  He says he hates Washington.

I hear he spends much of his time playing golf in Florida.  More power to him.  I wish I could spend more time playing golf in Florida.

In fact, I wish Chocola would spend all of his time playing golf in Florida, and spend no time making it harder for Republicans to keep their House majority.

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