ICYMI: “School Choice Is The New Litmus Test For Republicans


Washington, D.C. – In case you missed it, US News & World Report’s Lauren Camera published a story on Club for Growth aggressively challenging opposition to school choice.

Click here to read the US News & World Report story.

Click here to read more about the Club for Growth ads in Oklahoma.

Story Excerpts

Why School Choice is Roiling the GOP

By Lauren Camera, US News & World Report

Oklahoma’s Republican House Speaker Charles McCall, who hails from the rural southeastern county of Atoka, is the longest serving GOP member to hold the spot as top brass in the state’s history.

Over his five-year tenure, the fourth-generation family banker and fiscal conservative has secured cuts to personal and corporate income taxes, authored legislation restricting federal overreach into Oklahoma’s state affairs and oversaw an expansion of Republicans in the statehouse, from 72 members in his first term as speaker in 2016 to a record 82 members today.

His resume is one that any Oklahoma conservative could tout, and McCall has enjoyed enormous support at the ballot box, winning re-election in 2018 with 66% of the vote after dismissing a primary challenge in which he secured 65% of the votes and then running unopposed in 2020.

It may seem odd, then, that the Club for Growth, Washington’s cash-flush and powerful conservative group that often plays kingmaker in GOP circles, is running a five-figure ad buy against McCall, accusing the leader of “silencing parents.”

The attack is pegged to McCall’s opposition to a controversial bill that would allow any student to use state funds to attend private schools or be home-schooled. The legislation is backed by GOP Gov. Kevin Stitt, but McCall has argued that it would do little for rural communities like the ones he serves because there aren’t many – or any – other school options.

School choice has always been a major policy platform for Republicans, but the Club for Growth’s play on McCall’s seat is just the latest proof of how it’s becoming the ultimate purity test for conservatives in the run-up to the 2024 midterm elections. Voters angry about decisions to close schools and to require masks, resentful of discussions on critical race theory and the rights of transgender students are running toward the party with a new urgency, lured by its elevation of school choice as a means to address their indignation and take back control of school systems that they see as dominated by progressives and progressive ideology.

“Previously there were few repercussions to opposing school choice, but that has changed,” says David McIntosh, the president of Club for Growth PAC. “During the pandemic, more and more parents began paying attention to our public schools and they didn’t like what they saw.”

McIntosh is putting his money where his mouth is, peppering McCall’s district with $25,000 worth of TV commercials and mailers that say, say “Charles McCall just came out against school choice” and characterizing him as “supposedly a Republican.”

McCall’s name had been floated as a replacement for U.S. Rep. Markwayne Mullin, a Republican representing Oklahoma’s 2nd District who is running for the Senate seat being vacated by Jim Inhofe. Though he never officially announced a run for Congress, McCall reportedly backed off the idea in the last week.

“School choice is the new litmus test for Republicans,” McIntosh says. “Self-proclaimed conservatives who oppose school choice are nothing short of political whores, and we will find and support challengers to these RINOs” – an acronym for the pejorative “Republican in name only.”