Campaign for Primary Accountability
|Campaign for Primary Accountability|
|Chairman:||Eric O'Keefe and Leo Linbeck III, Co-Chairman|
- 1 Background
- 2 2014 elections
- 3 2012 elections
- 4 Recent news
- 5 External links
- 6 References
The goal of the organization listed on its official website reads:
"Our goal is to bring true competition to our electoral process, to give voters real information about their choices, and to restore fair, not fixed, elections."
The Campaign for Primary Accountability was featured in a front-page story in the Washington Post on March 8, 2012. The story quotes CPA founder Leo Linbeck saying, "We’re trying to make the electoral system competitive, so that Congress will become more accountable to the voters. It’s not about policy, it’s about governance. We’re not interested in shifting power between Republicans and Democrats. We’re interested in shifting power between Congress and the people."
The organization attracted national attention after the March 6, 2012, congressional primary in Ohio's 2nd District when it played a role in defeating incumbent Jean Schmidt. It attracted renewed attention when it played a role in incumbent Don Manzullo's defeat in the March 20, 2012, congressional primary in Illinois 16.
According to Campaign for Primary Accountability spokesman Curtis Ellis, "CPA does not fit the traditional Democrat versus Republican, liberal versus conservative paradigm. It is a trans-partisan organization that encourages greater participation in primaries by voters in both parties in order to break the partisan gridlock that has paralyzed Washington."
The official website of the CPA points to polls and election results from November 2010 as the impetus for its campaign. In November 2010, the congressional approval rating was 17 percent. During the same month, 86 percent of congressional incumbents were re-elected. The CPA believes that more than 80 percent of all districts are controlled by one major party -- which would make the primary the only place to defeat an incumbent.
"The right-versus-left paradigm is the wrong one, or Democrat versus Republican. It's a struggle between the ruling elite … versus the citizens," Linbeck said.
Tea Party Patriots co-founder Mark Meckler discusses the Campaign For Primary Accountability on MSNBC
The organization used four factors when deciding if it was active in a district.
- Is the district controlled by one party (in other words, the group was not active in swing districts)
- Is there a capable challenger
- Has the incumbent served at least two terms (in other words, no freshmen)
- Does private polling show a challenger could win
In an interview with MSNBC, Mark Meckler, co-founder of the Tea Party Patriots, said the goal of the Campaign was to defeat 100 incumbents in primaries -- 50 Democratic and 50 Republican.
The organization targeted certain "entrenched incumbents" who were deemed "out of step" with their district. Some of those included:
In the 2012 elections the Campaign for Primary Accountability spent a grand total of $1,816,476: $203,390 for Democrats, $522,176 against Democrats, $121,001 for Republicans, and $969,909 against Republicans. 
|Top 10 largest Campaign for Primary Accountability expenditures in 2012|
- After hearing that the Super PAC was opposed to her re-election, Marcy Kaptur called the group, "anarchists from Texas."
The top 5 donors to the Campaign for Primary Accountability during the 2012 election cycle were:
|Top 5 Donors to Campaign for Primary Accountability, 2012|
|Occupation/Employer||Total||From Individuals||From Organizations|
|Lime Rock Management||$100,000||$100,000||$0|
The top 5 industries donating to the Campaign for Primary Accountability during the 2012 election cycle were:
|Top 5 Donors to Campaign for Primary Accountability, 2012|
|Industry||Total||From Individuals||From Organizations|
|Oil & Gas||$566,000||$566,000||$0|
|Securities & Investment||$255,000||$220,000||$35,000|
Responses to activity
From targeted incumbents
- Jo Bonner (R): "Talking in the cloakroom, there are a lot of people who think they’re going to keep getting involved across the country."
- Don Manzullo (R): "Why would we have a system that allows people from outside the state with absolutely no connections to literally buy an election?"
- Spencer Bachus (R): "Because they don’t really seem to have any logical goals and their attacks are indiscriminate, I almost have to believe it’s an ego trip. This is really tearing apart the structure of this body. It’s a bullying tactic, and it attacks experienced legislators indiscriminately."
From the media
- A New York Times editorial on March 18, 2012, criticized the Campaign for Accountability, stating that the methods used "demonstrates the inherent danger in allowing big money to steer election results." The editorial acknowledged that there is an entrenchment problem in Congress, but questioned the unlimited spending of money by a small group of donors was the appropriate response. The editorial recommended promoting nonpartisan redistricting or opposing state attempts to limit voter turnout as other methods to effect change. Curtis Ellis, the CPA's press spokesperson, responded to the NYT editorial, saying, "The Campaign for Primary Accountability is using the laws that exist now to increase voter participation and redress the imbalanced access to big money that incumbents enjoy. Election reforms are certainly needed, but we cannot wait for incumbent lawmakers to ratify the reforms that will disadvantage them."
- A Wall Street Journal article on March 18, 2012, highlighted the organization's impact on 2012 elections. Writers detailed the "heartburn" that is being caused to both parties.
- The editorial board of the Houston Chronicle weighed in on the group on March 20, writing, "It's interesting to see big-buck donors using their wealth to undermine, rather than support, a political system where gerrymandering and uncontested incumbency seem to matter more than actual votes. After all, something is clearly wrong with the way elected officials get into office when congressional approval is 17 percent, but the rate of incumbents being re-elected is 90 percent. Linbeck's got an intriguing idea, and one we'll keep our eyes on."
- The editorial board of the Chicago Tribune mentioned the group in an April 24, 2012, article about entitlement programs. The editorial's introduction read: "No, we won't be sending donations to the Campaign for Primary Accountability, the political action committee that fights the huge advantage incumbents enjoy in U.S. House and Senate races. But on Monday we gained new appreciation for anti-incumbent fever: As Democrats and Republicans in Washington perpetually trade blame for our deteriorating federal finances, Social Security has moved three years closer to emptying its trust fund."
- After the 2012 elections, an article in Slate discussed the success of the organization in 2012 compared to higher-spending organizations such as those run by Karl Rove. According to the article, the Campaign for Primary Accountability "made the impact by targeting lower-impact races."
From the political parties
- A Politico article on March 19, 2012, reported that the "National Republican Congressional Committee told four companies working to unseat incumbent lawmakers that it could not do business with them anymore" because the firms were working with the CPA.
This section displays the most recent stories in a google news search for the term "Campaign + for + Primary + Accountability"
- All stories may not be relevant to this organization due to the nature of the search engine.
- Campaign for Primary Accountability "About," Accessed February 2, 2012
- Campaign for Primary Accountability "Facebook Page," Accessed February 2, 2012
- Washington Post, "One super PAC takes aim at incumbents of any party," March 7, 2012
- Politico, "Adam Kinzinger topples Don Manzullo in Illinois," March 21, 2012
- Politico "Holding Congress accountable," January 8, 2013
- Cincinnati Enquirer "Super-PAC targets 'out of step' Schmidt," January 29, 2012
- Campaign for Primary Accountability "Problem," Accessed February 2, 2012
- National Journal "Super PAC Plows Money Into Unseating Incumbents," February 28, 2012
- Campaign for Primary Accountability, "Highlighted Races," Accessed July 17, 2013
- Mother Jones "This Texas "Anarchist" GOPer Is Taking Out Incumbents," March 8, 2012
- MSNBC "Deylan Ratigan Show"
- Slate "The Men Who Stare At Incumbents, and Then Try to Beat Them," March 8, 2012
- Washington Post "One super PAC takes aim at incumbents of any party," March 7, 2012
- Talking Points Memo "Super-PAC Aims To Take Down Incumbents — All Of Them," February 6, 2012
- Campaign for Primary Accountability "Illinois District 13 Polling Memo," December 16, 2011
- National Journal "Facing Tough Primary, Veteran Rep. Burton Bows Out," January 31, 2012
- Roll Call "Super PAC takes aim at Charlie Rangel," May 8, 2012
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- Open Secrets "Campaign for Primary Accountability Recipients, 2012," Accessed July 17, 2013
- Toledo Blade "Texas "super-PAC" siding with Kucinich in Ohio 9th," February 15, 2012
- Open Secrets "Top Organizations Donating to Campaign for Primary Accountability, 2012," Accessed July 17, 2013
- Open Secrets "Contributions to Campaign for Primary Accountability Industry Breakdown, 2012," Accessed July 17, 2013
- Politico, "Super PAC's next target: Spencer Bachus," March 9, 2012
- Toledo Blade, "Texas "super-PAC" siding with Kucinich in Ohio 9th," February 15, 2012
- Politico, "Texas super PAC makes incumbents shake in their boots," March 19, 2012
- Washington Post "Super PAC targets incumbents of any stripe," June 18, 2012
- New York Times "The Wrong Way to Shake Up Congress," March 18, 2012
- Wall Street Journal "New 'Super PAC' Takes Aim at Incumbents," March 18, 2012
- Houston Chronicle, "Editorial: A PAC to upset the political apple cart," March 20, 2012
- Chicago Tribune "Editorial: Grim news on Social Security and Medicare, but who's listening?" April 24, 2012
- Slate "The Anti-Incumbent PAC Had a Better Record Than Rove," November 8, 2012
- "Eric Cantor takes sides while others avoid party fight," March 19, 2012