It takes a lot of money to run for Congress, and the open primary to replace retiring Congressman Kevin Brady (R-TX) in Texas’ 8th Congressional District is expected to be especially expensive. All those signs, TV ads, mailers, etc. aren’t cheap.
Looking at campaign finance reports can be helpful for a couple reasons. For one, you can tell whether a candidate is a serious, viable contender by how much money they have raised. You can also tell a lot about a candidate by looking at the people from whom they take money.
In the case of CD-08 candidate Christian Collins, one donation in particular is very telling.
Recent campaign finance filings show that Collins has received $243,848.72 from House Freedom Action, a Political Action Committee (PAC) affiliated with the House Freedom Caucus. An outgrowth of the Tea Party movement, the House Freedom Caucus is a group of approximately 40 or so of the most right-wing Republicans in Congress.
Although the Freedom Caucus is a minority within the overall House Republican Caucus, they have often proven to be a thorn in the side of GOP leadership. In addition to supporting candidates for open seats or trying to flip seats from Democrats, they have also helped fund primary challenges (with varying degrees of success) to GOP incumbents they believe are not conservative enough.
The contribution shouldn’t be surprising. Earlier this year, Collins was photographed meeting with Freedom Caucus founder Congressman Jim Jordan and former Congressman Mark Meadows, who was once the group’s chairman. Collins speaks highly of Freedom Caucus members and looks to them as examples of the kind of congressman he would be.
The support from House Freedom Action burnishes Collin’s conservative credentials as he seeks to consolidate support from the most rightward wing of the GOP primary electorate. That lane has been left wide open after State Rep. Steve Toth (R-Conroe), a Tea Party favorite, recently announced that he would seek re-election instead of running for Congress.
House Freedom Action’s donation also comes after U.S. Senator Ted Cruz announced he would be backing Collins. Collins is a former Cruz staffer and also the former campaign manager for Brady. He now runs the Texas Youth Summit which works to educate and mobilize young conservatives.
Collins’ early fundraising prowess indicates his viability as a candidate, and the fact that his insurgent-style campaign is receiving substantial support from House Freedom Action, in addition to the Cruz endorsement, should go along way in helping him assume the mantle of Tea Party favorite.