Paul Ryan super PAC ups 2018 investment, girds for brutal midterm
The Washington Examiner
By David Drucker
January 4, 2018
The super PAC affiliated with House Speaker Paul Ryan is opening eight new field offices to protect endangered Republicans, including one high-ranking leader, as the party girds for a brutal midterm election.
The openings by Congressional Leadership Fund are part of a planned $100 million campaign to protect the Republican Party’s 24-seat House majority in November, bringing its total field offices to 27.
“These are our most important races,” Corry Bliss, executive director of CLF, told the Washington Examiner on Wednesday.
The super PAC is not yanking support for House Republicans who voted against the federal tax overhaul signed into law by Trump last month, a punishment it administered to a GOP member who opposed the party’s legislation to repeal and replace Obamacare.
That’s good news for vulnerable incumbents like Rep. Leonard Lance, R-N.J., who enjoys the support of a previously opened CLF field office. However, Bliss made clear that Lance’s opposition to the tax bill could result in less air cover once the super PAC begins purchasing tens of millions in planned television, radio, digital and direct mail advertising.
“The field program is one tool in our tool belt,” he said. “When we allocate resources this year, heavy preference will go toward those who supported speaker and president’s legislative agenda.”
The president is popular in many safely drawn Republican seats, and he could still be a net plus for the GOP in key Senate races.
Under federal law, CLF, as a super PAC, can raise money in unlimited amounts but is prohibited from coordinating with campaigns or the national party. The group’s affiliation with Ryan has spurred millions in donations from Republican contributors.
Bliss modeled CLF’s field operation after the voter turnout operation he built for Sen. Rob Portman, R-Ohio, whose re-election campaign he managed in 2016. An in-house data analytics program helps guide his decision making.
The issue messaging, pushed in advertising and field canvassing, are localized to the district, with one exception: All of CLF’s field offices and volunteers will be promoting the federal tax overhaul, which cleared Congress unpopular and without any Democratic votes. Bliss said that selling the bill is crucial to the GOP’s prospects of holding the House.
“It will absolutely be a unifying theme because it doesn’t matter where you live, there’s noting more important to anyone than making a good living and taking care of your family,” Bliss said.