WASHINGTON — Club for Growth, the Washington-based group that supports limited government and lower taxes, poured $149,000 into Kevin Calvey's congressional campaign in the past few days, with much of it going to a television ad that touts Calvey's experience fighting liberal policies.
The money was spent by the club's political action committee, which has put just over $160,000 into its efforts for Calvey since the July 27 primary, according to Federal Election Commission reports.
Calvey, of Oklahoma City, is facing James Lankford, of Edmond, in Tuesday's runoff for the Republican nomination for the 5th Congressional District seat.
Though Club for Growth cannot by law coordinate its efforts with Calvey's campaign, the group has been echoing Calvey's runoff message — that Calvey, a former state lawmaker who wrote legislation to cut taxes, has the experience that Lankford, a political newcomer, lacks.
The club, which got heavily involved in Sen. Tom Coburn's race in 2004, endorsed Calvey last year, as it did in Calvey's unsuccessful run for the seat in 2006. Club for Growth members across the country have donated tens of thousands of dollars directly to Calvey's campaign.
The club's political action committee also has spent money on direct-mail pieces promoting Calvey.
Mike Connolly, a spokesman for the group, said Wednesday that the endorsement "was and remains based on Calvey's proven and impeccable record of fighting for economic freedom and limited government, even if it means going against his own party."
Lankford, a former youth camp director, said Wednesday that Club for Growth "is like many Washington, D.C.-based special interest groups — they jump into races around the country when they do not even know all the candidates in the race or the people in the state."
"I believe that there are many Oklahomans in the private sector who are capable of fighting for the values and core principles of our nation, not just a small elite group of experienced politicians," Lankford said.
Lankford said he has been endorsed by state Reps. Mike Thompson and Shane Jett, who finished third and fourth, respectively, in the July 27 Republican primary for the congressional seat. Both served with Calvey, and "believe that I have the leadership to take on the liberals in Washington."
Calvey enjoys a huge financial advantage over Lankford in the campaign even without Club for Growth's recent help. However, Lankford finished first in the primary despite being outspent by Calvey and Thompson.