News: The House Freedom Caucus is tapping candidates from its state network in hopes of bringing new recruits to Congress.
At least two candidates who are involved with state Freedom Caucus chapters are running for office, including in a primary against a Republican incumbent. There are currently 11 state Freedom Caucuses across the country, with the Missouri chapter launching this month. Many of these chapters are not affiliated with the D.C. Freedom Caucus, but are clearly inspired by them.
“Having the state Freedom Caucuses builds synergy for communications and networking to create sound ideas and cohesive conservative policies on the state and federal level,” Rep. Eric Burlison (R-Mo.) told us.
The Freedom Caucus’ influence in Washington has gone up and down in recent years, with the 118th Congress being an up. The group expends much of its energy trying to force GOP leadership to provoke governmental crises (shutdowns and debt defaults) thinking Democrats will fall in line. These tactics have yielded little in the way of tangible results. This Congress, in particular, has been chock-full of constant stalemates on legislation due to opposition from the far right.
The group has grown exponentially. It had just nine members when it was founded in 2015. Now, the caucus has more than three dozen members.
But, in truth, the HFC has changed a good deal in nine years. It was once a group devoted solely to the adherence of House rules. It now has sought to push the rest of the conference to the right on cultural issues and embrace the isolationist “America First” movement promoted by former President Donald Trump.
The Freedom Caucus has state chapters in Montana, Idaho, Wyoming, South Dakota, Arizona, Missouri, Illinois, Louisiana, Pennsylvania, South Carolina and Georgia.
Candidates to watch:
→ Adam Morgan, a South Carolina state representative, chairs his state’s Freedom Caucus chapter. Morgan is the first candidate from a state chapter to announce a congressional run. He is looking to oust Rep. William Timmons (R-S.C.), as we reported this week.
→ South Carolina state Rep. Stewart Jones, a founding member of the Palmetto State’s chapter, is running for Rep. Jeff Duncan’s (R-S.C.) open seat. “We’ve just done an incredible job pushing the Republican Party further to the right and closer to the Constitution,” Jones told us. “People don’t always like that message.”
A thorn in the side: Freedom Caucus members often infuriate their GOP colleagues. It’s no different at the state level.
→ In the Missouri Senate, Republican leadership stripped four members of its Freedom Caucus chapter from their committee chairmanships due to their hardball floor tactics.
→ More than a dozen members of the South Carolina Freedom Caucus were also booted from their GOP Caucus. They refused to sign a loyalty pledge vowing not to campaign against sitting Republican colleagues.
→ Last year, Rep. David Schweikert (R-Ariz.) resigned from HFC because of the reputation the Arizona chapter had, which he described as “much more populist.” Schweikert is in a district President Joe Biden won in 2020 and is politically vulnerable.
Rep. Austin Scott (R-Ga.), who has been frustrated by his conservative colleagues in Congress, criticized the expansion of the group.
Scott has blamed them for holding up legislation and helping to boot former Speaker Kevin McCarthy. The Georgia Republican has also donated to HFC Chair Bob Good’s (R-Va.) primary challenger.
“The Freedom Caucus has morphed into an organization that is counterproductive to accomplishing our goals as conservatives,” Scott told us. “There’s nothing conservative about voting procedurally with Democrats.”
– Mica Soellner