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New Gig May Signal A Break from Politics for Toomey

Former Rep. Pat Toomey (R-Pa.) last week became the new head of the Club for Growth, the pro-economic growth, anti-tax conservative group that has taken an increasingly aggressive role in Congressional campaigns in the past two cycles.

Toomey, who came close to defeating Sen. Arlen Specter (R) in a primary last year, will replace outgoing president and founder Stephen Moore.

Moore is moving on to head up a new Washington, D.C.-based firm, the Free Enterprise Fund, which will lobby for Social Security reform, permanent abolition of the inheritance tax and tort reform.

“There is no better person to whom I could be passing the torch to run the Club for Growth than Pat Toomey,” Moore, who helped found the group in 1999, said in a statement. “He will do a spectacular job.”

David Keating will continue to serve as executive director of the group.

Toomey became a poster child of sorts for the organization, which aided his Senate bid heavily, after he came within 2 percentage points of defeating the four-term moderate Senator.

The Club for Growth also played an influential role in helping to elect several newly sworn-in Members, including Sen. Tom Coburn (R-Okla.) and Rep. Jeff Fortenberry (R-Neb.).

The group, which boasts a membership of more than 29,000 today, and its affiliates raised more than $22 million for candidates in the 2004 election cycle.

“Steve Moore has done a terrific job expanding the membership and influence of the Club for Growth,” Toomey said in a statement, adding that he looks forward to “building on an impressive record of success.”

While Toomey’s name had been floated as a potential challenger to Pennsylvania Gov. Ed Rendell (D) in 2006, his decision to take this job and remain in Washington, D.C., puts much of that speculation to rest.
— Lauren W. Whittington

Nussle a Step Closer to Running for Governor

Rep. Jim Nussle (R) took the first step toward an expected gubernatorial run last week by forming a committee allowing him to raise money for a statewide bid.

Under Iowa law, Nussle was required to file a gubernatorial committee because he collected more than $750 for a potential candidacy.

“I am humbled that so many Iowans believe that my leadership will help make Iowa a better place to live, work, raise a family, and retire in dignity,” Nussle said. He is expected to make a decision on the contest by the spring.

The Iowa Member, who was elected to an eighth term in November representing the eastern Iowa 1st district, would enter a Republican gubernatorial primary as the frontrunner though he is not likely to have the field to himself.

Doug Gross, the party’s nominee against Gov. Tom Vilsack (D) in 2002, remains interested in the race as does Bob Vander Plaats, who lost in a primary to Gross.

On the Democratic side, Secretary of State Chet Culver is the odds-on favorite.

If, as expected, Nussle vacates his seat, both national parties are likely to play heavily there in 2006.
— Chris Cillizza

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