The Congressional Leadership Fund (CLF), which is closely aligned with House GOP leader Kevin McCarthy, R-Calif., announced on Tuesday that it’s backing six 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 six candidates have earned the endorsement of its Trailblazers Fund. That’s the group’s hard-dollar arm that 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.
While Republicans lost control of the White House and the Senate in the 2020 elections, they defied expectations by taking a big bite out of the Democrats’ House majority. The GOP needs a net gain of just five seats in the 435-member chamber in November’s midterms to recapture the majority.
"Each of these six candidates has proven they have what it takes to expand the battlefield deeper into Democrat-held territory and win," CLF President Dan Conston said in a statement. "Republicans continue to recruit the nation’s best of the best as we fight for a new Republican majority."
Among the six candidates landing endorsements is Republican businessman, U.S. Army veteran, and 2018 and 2020 GOP Senate nominee in Michigan John James, who in January declared his candidacy in Michigan’s newly created 10th Congressional District.
CLF is also endorsing Scott Baugh in California's 47th Congressional District, a Democratic controlled open seat; Tom Barrett in Michigan's 7th District, where Democratic Rep. Elissa Slotkin’s running for re-election; Tyler Kistner in Minnesota's 2nd District, where Democratic incumbent Angie Craig is seeking another term; Alex Skarlatos in Oregon's 4th District, a Democratic controlled open seat; and Lisa Scheller in Pennsylvania 7th, where Democratic Rep. Susan Wild’s running for re-election.
In January, CLF endorsed its first round of House candidates. The group backed Juan Ciscomani in Arizona's 6th District, Esther Joy King in Illinois' 17th, Amanda Adkins in Kansas' 3rd, former Rep. Bruce Poliquin in Maine's 2nd, former Interior secretary and former Rep. Ryan Zinke in Montana's 1st, Tom Kean Jr. in New Jersey's 7th, Morgan Luttrell in Texas' 8th, Monica De La Cruz in Texas' 15th, Wesley Hunt in Texas' 38th, Jen Kiggans in Virginia's 2nd, and Derrick Van Orden in Wisconsin's 3rd.
The CLF, which is also endorsed by House GOP Whip Steve Scalise, R-La., highlights that it raised and spent more than $165 million across 54 targeted congressional races in the 2020 election cycle.
It’s fair to say that the two batches of endorsements so far this year by the group are a good indicator of the districts where CLF is likely to spend money to run ads in autumn in the run-up to the midterms.