The Campaign for Primary Accountability Has No Accountability

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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.  


About Author

Chaille Jolink

Chaille Jolink was born and raised in Austin, Texas and has more than a decade of experience working in Texas politics. Her interest began when she was a Senate Messenger in 2003, and she's since worked for several different legislators and candidates. She started reporting in 2007 for, and has been a contributor to several different publications. Chaille is a graduate of the University of Texas and enjoys fashion, baseball, and playing any team sport. Chaille tweets @ChailleMcCann.

1 Comment

  1. further effects of term limits
    I was pleasantly surprised to see the article highlight the effects of losing long-time incumbents.  Thank you.

    I'd like to add another point: if term limits came along, it would hand power from members of Congress to their staff and to paid lobbyists.  Staff and professional lobbyists stick around a long time; even if their member loses, they just move on to the next whiskey bar.  If you have Congress members who can only stay a short time and don't know the ropes, then members will be utterly dependent on them for their policy positions.

    And staff and lobbyists are not elected.  They are not accountable to voters.

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