In an interesting move, the ultra-conservative group Club for Growth is targeting Arkansas Congressman Rick Crawford in a list of nine Republican Congressmen.  Their website – PrimaryMyCongressman.com – seeks to find primary opponents for these nine Republicans they consider to be RINOs (Republican In Name Only) living in safe conservative districts.

The website explains they are targeting based on their scorecard and the votes for Mitt Romney in the district to determine if it was a “safe” district.  In the First Congressional District, Romney received over 61 percent of the vote in 2012.

In regard to Crawford specifically, Club for Growth pointed toward his support of a tax on millionaire in exchange for a balanced budget amendment.

“‘GOP frosh to back millionaire’s tax’ said the headline of an article in a D.C. based publication in March of 2012. The ‘frosh’ was Arkansas Congressmen Rick Crawford. His proposal earned him praise from the liberal editorial board of the New York Times. In addition to his massive tax increase proposal, Crawford also opposed limiting spending in the Highway bill to just gas tax receipts, despite the fact that the Highway trust fund has needed repeated bailouts to cover its bloated spending budget.

It is interesting that Club for Growth conveniently does not mention the portion of his proposal that would have required a Balanced Budget Amendment (BBA).  It is also worth pointing out that only a few months after Crawford’s proposal, Republicans were forced to swallow tax hikes for income over a million dollars without any meaningful spending cuts and certainly no BBA.

It is also odd that Crawford actually has a higher score (58%) on the Club for Growth’s scorecard than Congressman Steve Womack (56%) who is in the safe northwest Arkansas Third District. Womack actually scored behind Congressman Mike Ross,  who scored (57%.)  Congressman Griffin scored the highest (75%.)

Crawford pointed to this inconsistency in responding to the statement from the Club for Growth.

“Their decision to attack me is bizarre considering I had the second highest conservative score among the Arkansas congressional delegation. It really boils down to a fundamental disagreement I have with some so-called conservatives about whether we push for temporary feel-good cuts that vanish in a few years or whether we do the hard work of fighting for permanent spending controls like a balanced budget amendment. We will never address this spending-driven debt crisis until we implement permanent spending reforms. My hope is that groups like this will someday use their vast financial resources to push for permanent spending controls that will make a difference instead of wasting it on the status quo of non-binding budget resolutions and single-year spending cuts,” said Crawford.

It is worth noting that Club for Growth found Arkansas’ First District to be a safe Republican district after Crawford won the seat becoming the first Republican elected from the district in modern history.  It does however fit with some recent polling data from Talk Business.

For example, the most recent Talk Business statewide poll found Democratic Gov. Beebe’s approval rating was lowest in the First District at 56.8%, while in the other districts it ranged from 68% to 73%.  Likewise Sen. Pryor’s approval is the lowest in the First at 35.3%, while in other districts it ranged from 38% to 48%.

Club for Growth does not list any potential primary opponents for Crawford and I have not heard any names yet, although Democratic Rep. Marshall Wright has been mentioned as a general election opponent.

In 2012, Crawford won the election by over 17 points with 56.23% of the vote. He did not face a primary, but won his primary in 2010 with 71.79 % of the vote.

Speaking of the Club for Growth… They are out with a new ad in Arkansas connecting Sen. Mark Pryor to President Obama based on his voting record.

“When you vote for Pryor, you vote for Obama,” says the ad which you can view on YouTube here.

PryorObama

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Jason Tolbert is the moderator for his opinion blog, The Tolbert Report. He can be reached by e-mail at Jason@TolbertReport.com. Follow him on Twitter: @TolbertReport.