Throughout this election cycle we have all been introduced to a new player in the political field, the Super PAC. One particular Super PAC, which consists mainly of four wealthy male donors, is targeting incumbent races in the US House of Representatives all over the country. The group is known as the Campaign for Primary Accountability, and they're getting involved in races here in Texas.
The men are Leo Linbeck III, a builder in Houston; Eric O' Keefe, term limits advocate and Club for Growth board member; Tim Dunn, chairman of Texans for Fiscal Responsibility; and J. Joe Ricketts, founder of TD Ameritrade. They're just four average guys with millions of dollars to spare.
Congressman Donald Manzullo, who was one of their Republican targets in the recent Illinois primaries, said to Politico,
“Why would we have a system that allows people from outside the state with absolutely no connections to literally buy an election?”
The amount of money poured into normally safe seats is unprecedented, and obviously does not sit well with most incumbents particularly when many of them have traditionally won their district by a considerable margin, suggesting that most people in the district are happy with their current elected officials. However, the Super PAC has their own internal polling that can show different results, at least according to them.
The first race in Texas the Super PAC is targeting is CD 16 in El Paso, where Rep. Silvestre Reyes has served the community since 1996 and is ranking member on the Armed Services Committee and the Committee on Veterans Affairs. The challenger is city council member Beto O'Rourke, who is a young man primarily known for his position on wanting to legalize marijuana. This is one of the more unorthodox races they could target but O'Rourke has a connection to the Super PAC through his father-in-law, William Sander, who donated to the super PAC in December.
One problem with targeting incumbents in House Races all over the country is that the Congressional body itself loses institutional memory with every incumbent loss. In races where there is only one man, and one job, per se, like the President or Governor, it can be argued that term limits are appropriate, but when a group randomly targets races, it erodes at the wisdom of the body as a whole, which is something anyone can say we desperately need in Congress.