DC-based Madison Project PAC announced this week that it is throwing its support behind Art Halvorson, a businessman who announced a primary to Rep. Bill Shuster (R-Blair).
It appears to be motivated by a general anti-establishment sentiment.
“Republicans in southwest Pennsylvania deserve better than the tax-and-spend brand of Republicanism that has represented them in the form of the Shuster dynasty since 1972,” said Drew Ryun of the Madison Project. “Congressman Shuster is the embodiment of the big government tendencies within the Republican party with his votes for Cash for Clunkers, credit card regulations, TARP among other bad votes.”
The Madison Project, named after President James Madison, describes itself as a fundraiser for political conservative candidates across the country who match their platform as “Pro-Life, Pro-Family, Limited Government, Defenders of Religious Freedom.”
Located in Washington, the PAC is chaired by former Congressman (and Olympic medalist) Jim Ryun, a staunch Republican and Evangelical who was considered by some to be the most conservative member of congress during his five terms from 1996 to 2006. The Madison Project had an operating budget of nearly $2 million in 2012, most of which went directly to political candidates.
Shuster most likely attracted the PAC’s ire when he took over the gavel of the powerful House Committee on Transportation and Infrastructure – thus joining House GOP leadership. As his father and predecessor did, Shuster has shown willingness to seek compromise among conservative and moderate Republicans as well as Democrats.
“I lump Mr. Shuster in with Mr. Boehner. He’s part of the leadership, part of the negotiations and strategic dealings with Mr. Obama. He’s not leading. If we’re gonna trade things off, let’s get something in return,” said Halvorson during his candidacy announcement.
PA-9 went from the most Republican-leaning in Pa. to the second most Republican-leaning after redistricting. Romney carried the district by 27 points in 2012, which comprises all of Bedford, Blair, Fayette, Franklin, Fulton and Indiana counties along with parts of Cambria, Greene, Huntingdon, Somerset and Washington counties.
The conservative lean to the district is part of the PAC’s endorsement message for Halvorson; Madison Project says a deep-red conservative could win PA-9.
That’s in a vacuum. Halvorson would have to beat Shuster, who raised half a million dollars in Q1 and is one of the most powerful members of the Pa. delegation – if not the most.
“Congressman Shuster is focused on promoting conservative solutions for the challenges facing Pennsylvanians. From voting to repeal Obamacare, cutting taxes for 99% of our working families, and reigning in the IRS, Congressman Shuster has a proven conservative record. His focus remains on representing the conservative values for the people of the 9th Congressional district,” said Campaign Manager Sean Joyce.
Halvorson, 57, moved to Mann’s Choice in Bedford County 5 years ago after serving 29 years in the U.S. Coast Guard. He said he runs a commercial development business with properties up and down the east coast. He is the first endorsement of the 2014 cycle for the Madison Project, which directs its website visitors to Halvorson’s campaign donation website.