Republican Freshmen Stick Together

Posted June 22, 2012 at 5:38pm

If blood is indeed thicker than water, freshman GOP lawmakers are demonstrating they are one tight family.

Freshman House Republicans are lining up behind two fellow members of their class who are fighting more senior Republicans because of redistricting, appearing at fundraisers and vouching to provide support in other ways as well.

The two beneficiaries are Reps. Sandy Adams (Fla.) and Jeff Landry (La.), who face Reps. John Mica and Charles Boustany, respectively.

At a meeting of the freshman class last Wednesday at the Capitol Hill Club, the subject came up and Members generally agreed to support Adams and Landry, sources said.

“They agreed to back them because, as a class, they came here to change the way Washington works,” said a Republican aide who was at the meeting.

One freshman said the class will not take an official position. For instance, neither Adams nor Landry are part of the “Freshman Hold ’Em” candidate retention program that a group of five lawmakers have spearheaded.

But, the lawmaker said, the “overwhelming majority” of the class will be backing both candidates.

To show some measure of such support last week, a number of freshmen appeared at two fundraisers, one for Adams and one for Landry.

An invitation for an Adams June 20 event held at a Capitol Hill row house listed Reps. Dan Benishek (Mich.), Jeff Duncan (S.C.), Bill Flores (Texas), Raul Labrador (Idaho), Rich Nugent (Fla.), Martha Roby (Ala.), Dennis Ross (Fla.), Austin Scott (Ga.) and Allen West (Fla.) as featured guests.

The support of Scott, the freshman class president and West, a high-profile favorite of conservative activists, is particularly helpful to Adams.

The Value in Electing Women Political Action Committee helped host the event.

Appearing at a Landry fundraiser last week were Duncan and freshman Reps. Jeff Denham (Calif.), Mick Mulvaney (S.C.) and Steve Southerland (Fla.) and veteran lawmakers Reps. Jim Jordan (Ohio) and Don Young (Alaska), a GOP consultant said.

Adams also received aid from a group of female lawmakers at an April 25 fundraiser, including House GOP Conference Vice Chairwoman Cathy McMorris Rodgers (Wash.) and freshman Rep. Kristi Noem (S.D.).

McMorris Rodgers has not endorsed Adams or Mica, a spokesman said.

In fact, she had agreed to the fundraiser before the two Florida Republicans had filed papers to run in the same district and gave Mica a heads-up and offered to appear at one of his events.

Adams’ campaign committee is also listed on the statement of organization filed with the Federal Election Commission for the “Freshman Class JFC,” a joint fundraising committee whose treasurer is Lisa Lisker of Huckaby Davis Lisker.

Other freshman GOP Members who are associated with the committee are Reps. Francisco “Quico” Canseco (Texas), Rick Crawford (Ark.), Robert Dold (Ill.), Sean Duffy (Wis.), Stephen Fincher (Tenn.), Cory Gardner (Colo.), Michael Grimm (N.Y.), Nan Hayworth (N.Y.), Jim Renacci (Ohio), Daniel Webster (Fla.) and Mike Fitzpatrick (Pa.), who was elected in 2010 after losing a re-election effort in 2006.

In March, CBS News published an undercover sting of a fundraising trip for the committee held at the Ocean Reef Club in Key Largo, Fla.

Although the grainy video images of lawmakers at a luxury resort were embarrassing, the investigation did not uncover any impropriety.

The committee donated modest amounts to several of the lawmakers associated with it during the last quarter for which FEC filings are available.

During redistricting, Republican state legislators drew Boustany and Landry into the same district, most of which Boustany has represented.

Landry, who officially announced his long-expected Member-vs.-Member bid last month, has worked to position himself as the more conservative, tea-party-affiliated Member. He’s made particular hay out of his vote against — and Boustany’s vote in favor of — the debt-ceiling-raising Budget Control Act last year.

Boustany, who is close with Speaker John Boehner (Ohio), has a fundraising edge over the freshman. Boustany, a physician, told Roll Call last month he is “committed to running a hard-nosed, aggressive, grass-roots campaign.”

John Porter, a spokesman for Boustany, said that “while he has respect for every colleague that’s a Member of the body, Congressman Boustany is more concerned about getting the support of the constituents in the new 3rd Congressional district than he is necessarily courting fellow members.”

Adams has worked to emphasize a similar tea-party-vs.-establishment narrative in her race against the 10-term Mica, the chairman of the powerful Transportation and Infrastructure Committee. While both Members often emphasize their conservative bona fides, Adams has the edge on tea party support in the district. Florida’s redistricting process drew both Members’ homes into the new 7th district north of Orlando.

Allen Byrd, a spokesman for Mica, said, “While Congressman Adams has some friends in the freshman class, we are proud that the support we are receiving in the district from numerous local elected officials, including the mayors of Winter Springs, Oviedo and Apopka, the three main cities inside her current district, and feel confident that the support of those elected officials and community leaders will result in a win in August.”

Joshua Miller contributed to this report.