Despite an outside group’s $200,000 media broadside aimed at ethical questions swirling around him, House Financial Services Committee Chairman Rep. Spencer Bachus (R-Ala.) secured renomination tonight. In the most difficult contest he has faced since he won his first term back in 1992, Bachus rolled up about 57 percent of the vote against three opponents in the Birmingham-based Sixth District.
That such a senior and powerful incumbent as Bachus was forced to spend more than $1.5 million in the primary is a story in itself. And the out-of-state group that targeted him made it clear to HUMAN EVENTS that they have other senior House Members in their sites this year.
Bachus faced widespread criticism from his opponents and the local press for alleged insider stock trading while holding his powerful committee chairmanship. The alleged trading occurred, opponents said, while Bachus was chairman during the ’08 Wall Street financial meltdown. Bachus has denied any wrongdoing.
The veteran lawmaker came under particularly harsh fire from a Houston-based “SuperPAC” known as the Committee for Public Accountability. Committee spokesman Curtis Ellis told HUMAN EVENTS earlier today that having spent $150,000 on an independent (and successful) effort to defeat Ohio Rep. Jean Schmidt in that state’s Republican primary March 6, “we spent about $200,000 against Mr. Bachus.”
Founded by Texas multimillionaires Leo Linbeck, III and Eric O’Keefe, the Committee for Public Accountability has emerged as a force for what Ellis described as “the goal of equalizing congressional districts that are considered ‘safe’ for either party and giving them competitive elections.” He explained that they chose to target Bachus because “our polling showed that as much as 50 percent of the [primary] voters were willing to consider someone else, he has a number of ethical issues, and he has not had a competitive election since 1992.”
Ellis also made it clear it was going after other lawmakers of both parties that the Committee felt were too entrenched and were too much a part of the Washington system. In Illinois’ primary March 20, he told us, “we have targeted Democratic Rep. Jesse Jackson, Jr, who is a walking advertisement for corrupt activity, and faces a primary challenge from [former Rep.] Debbie Halvorsen. And we are going after [20-year Republican Rep.] Don Manzullo, who violated his term limit pledge that he made when he was first elected.” As a result of unfavorable redistricting, Manzullo (lifetime American Conservative Union rating: 95 percent) finds himself in a tough primary battle with freshman Republican Rep. Adam Kinzinger (ACU rating: 72 percent).”
The Committee, Ellis said, also plans to launch independent attack media strikes against Pennsylvania Reps. Tim Murphy (Republican) and Tim Holden (Democrat) in the Keystone State’s primary in April.
So while Spencer Bachus dodged a bullet, a lot of other incumbent House Members will face a full magazine of bullets from a little-known source. And some will not survive.