Americans United for Change launched a yearlong campaign against 47 members of Congress that they say are Tea Partiers; four Pennsylvania congressmen are among them: Reps. Dent (R-Lehigh), Pitts (R-Chester), Fitzpatrick (R-Bucks) and Meehan (R-Delaware).
“Going forward we’re going to make Tea Party loyalty a central part of our messaging and paid ad/polling/grassroots activity holding Republicans accountable for putting a handful of ideological extremists and exploitive billionaires ahead of America’s economy and middle class,” Lauren Weiner, Americans United for Change spokeswoman said. “Whether it’s standing in the way of restoring UI, raising the minimum wage, or comprehensive immigration reform.”
The group uses a Tea Party Scorecard, a play on the use of scoring mechanisms by ultra-conservative organizations, to measure how often members of Congress vote with the Tea Party. They set their own definition of Tea Party votes, as well. Members were given points for each of the following criterium:
Votes associated with repealing, dismantling or delaying the Affordable Care and Patient Protection Act, more commonly known as Obamacare or health care reform
Votes associated with the Tea Party-provoked government shutdown in the fall of 2013 – most of which could also reasonably be seen as votes defunding, dismantling or delaying the Affordable Care Act
Every vote scored by either or both of the major advocacy organizations associated with the Tea Party – Americans for Prosperity and Freedomworks
They also claim that the districts that they target are swing elections that will be close in 2014. Rep. Joe Pitts was the most “Tea Stained” according to the group, with a score of 88 percent. He is followed closely by Rep. Mike Fitzpatrick (73 percent), Rep. Pat Meehan (71 percent) and Rep. Charlie Dent (69 percent).
So far, Pitts, Dent and Meehan don’t have opponents. Fitzpatrick will face the winner of a two-way primary between Kevin Strouse and Shaughnessy Naughton.
The National Republican Campaign Committee didn’t seem concerned with the new attacks.
“The first thing that came to mind when learning about this was that April Fools’ Day came two months early. Congressman Dent, Fitzpatrick, Meehan and Pitts are four representatives who embody what it means to put their districts and constituents before any particular political philosophy,” NRCC Spokesman Ian Prior said. “On the other hand, Americans United for Change is nothing more than an extreme leftist Super PAC that is trying to deceive voters by wasting its money on deceptive propaganda that has no legitimate basis whatsoever.”
The Americans United for Change list contrasts sharply with a study put out by Cook Political Report last November. Cook Political Report studied members of Congress who voted against major bipartisan bills as a measure of “Republican Resistance.” In Pennsylvania, they put Pitts, Scott Perry (R-York) and Keith Rothfus (R-Allegheny) on their list.