From the DallasNews.com. By Wayne Slater/Reporter
A Texas super PAC with the stated goal of ousting congressional incumbents will target two long-time Texas Republicans in the GOP primary – Joe Barton of Ennis and Ralph Hall of Rockwall . Barton and Hall are among the longest-serving members of the state’s congressional delegation. The Campaign for Primary Accountability said today it plans to spend money going after two Republicans, who are both being challenged in the primary. The group earlier announced it was targeting two Democrats – Reps. Eddie Bernice Johnson of Dallas and Sylvestre Reyes of El Paso. Spokesman Curtis Ellis says the super PAC is nonpartisan. He says the group selects candidates on both sides of the aisle who have been in office a long time and districts where “our polling shows that people are ready for a change.”
Barton, who’s been in Congress for 26 years, faces three primary challengers, including former AddisonMayor Joe Chow, small business owner Itamar Gelbman and payroll supervisor Frank Kuchar, who has sought tea party backing. Hall is seeking his 17th term. He faces two GOP challengers, telecom executive Steve Clark of Heath and auto racing parts company owner Lou Gigliotti of East Tawakoni.
The PAC has raised $1.8 million through February, according to federal filings, and has run television commercials against incumbents in several states. Much of the money — about $775,000 — has come from Houston construction executive Leo Linbeck III. Linbeck is the son of a leader of Texans for Lawsuit Reform, a Houston-based group that has sought to limit lawsuits against business. But Linbeck says his group has no connection with TLR. The group’s filings show its most recent contributors include $25,000 from Indiana billionaire Dean White , a Republican campaign contributor whose company has given $1 million to the Karl Rove-affiliated American Crossroads super PAC. Some critics have accused Campaigns for Primary Accountability of being a front group for Republican interests. But Ellis denied that, saying the PAC’s goal is to dilute the financial power of special interests in Washington and challenge entrenched incumbents regardless of political party. In addition to the Texas races, the committee also is targeting incumbents in Pennsylvania, North Carolina and Virginia. Under federal law, super PACs can raised and spend unlimited sums but cannot coordinate directly with campaigns.
Ralph Hall told Sean Walsh in our Washington bureau that he doesn’t have a problem with the campaign but was upset they did not reach out to him before targeting his seat.
“If they’re just targeting me because I’m an incumbent, they have a right to do that, but if they look in my record, they probably would not target me … I voted pretty much of the tea party’s record. I voted against both of the increases in the debt limit and most of the giveaways.”
Barton spokesman Craig Murphy said the congressman is “confident he’ll win another term.” As for the super PAC, Murphy said, “I don’t want to speculate on their motives, I don’t know who these guys are.”