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Chocola Likely to Head Club for Growth

Officials at the Club for Growth have zeroed in on former Rep. Chris Chocola (R-Ind.) to lead the group after the current president, former Rep. Pat Toomey (R-Pa.), leaves later this month to run for Senate in Pennsylvania.

According to sources familiar with the situation, Chocola’s hiring is not a done deal, but he will likely take the top spot after Toomey departs. Toomey has indicated that he plans to run against Sen. Arlen Specter in the 2010 GOP primary — a rematch of the 2004 primary challenge that Toomey lost by 2 points.

The club advocates for fiscally conservative causes and candidates, calling on its extensive list of donors to back conservative candidates in GOP primaries in House and Senate races — often at the expense of the national party’s preferred candidate.

A spokeswoman for the club declined to comment Wednesday morning, and Chocola did not respond to a request for comment.

Chocola is one of 17 members on the club’s leadership council and served alongside Toomey for a single term in the House. Chocola was twice elected to the House before losing a bid for his third term in 2006 to now-Rep. Joe Donnelly (D-Ind.).

And like Toomey, Chocola has deep pockets: Roll Call reported in 2004 that Chocola was one of the wealthiest Members of Congress with a net worth of almost $15 million.

The Indiana Republican, however, has never donated a significant amount to his own campaigns, according to federal election records. In his final campaign in 2006, Chocola raised $3.2 million and lost to Donnelly by 8 points.

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