As the 2014 congressional midterm elections approach, two social conservative political action committees have focused most of their election efforts on a handful of key Senate races that are crucial for the GOP's hopes of taking control of the Senate this November.
The Christian Post interviewed the heads of The Family Research Council Action PAC and the Concerned Women for America PAC, both based in Washington, D.C., to find out where they are focusing their election efforts.
Both have been supporting and contributing to the campaigns of social conservative Senate candidates Joni Ernst in Iowa and Tom Cotton in Arkansas, who are trying to win seats in their respective states that are currently held by Democrats. They are also contributing to opposition efforts against Democratic incumbents Sen. Kay Hagan in North Carolina and Sen. Mary Landrieu in Louisiana.
FRC Action PAC and CWA PAC have given support to a few House Republican candidates that have met their social conservative standards and have made it clear this election cycle that they're only supporting Republican candidates who oppose abortion and gay marriage.
With a trend of Republican candidates and incumbents starting to accept or support gay marriage, the two groups are not supporting, for instance, candidates like the openly gay Republican California House candidate Carl DeMaio.
Even though directors at the FRC Action PAC and CWA PAC are opposed to the current state of some Republican's lax attitude toward social issues, they are contributing to the election efforts in various ways in key tossup Senate races in order for the GOP to take control of the Senate. However, they are still urging conservatives to stand by their social principles.
"Our main focus is on firing Majority Leader Harry Reid," Concerned Women for America PAC Director Shari Rendall told The Christian Post. "We are focused on making sure that we protect incumbents and elect candidates that share our core values. We want to support those individuals who will lead on the issues and not just be a solid vote. It is not enough for us for a candidate to say 'look at my voting record.' They need to demonstrate they are willing to champion life, liberty and religious freedom."
Both PACs are placing an emphasis on the North Carolina Senate race. Their focus is primarily just in opposition to Democrat Sen. Kay Hagan, who is pro-abortion and facing Republican Thom Tillis. In fact, the FRC Action's lone television advertisement they will put out in the 2014 election cycle will be an ad opposing Hagan's pro-abortion record, FRC Action President Connie Mackey said in an interview with CP.
"With TV ads and TV time being so expensive, we can only pay for one space and that is in North Carolina at this point," Mackey said.
Both PACs have endorsed Ernst and are pushing for her to take the vacant Iowa Senate seat that is currently held by retiring Democratic Sen. Tom Harkin. FRC Action PAC just concluded a 20-city tour of Iowa where they campaigned for Ernst and also for Iowa representative Steve King.
In Arkansas, both groups are strong in their endorsement and support of Cotton in hopes that he will unseat Democratic Sen. Mark Pryor. Mackey said FRC Action will soon have a concentrated presence in the state, while Rendall also indicated that CWA has already had a large focus in Arkansas. Polls indicate that Cotton has about a 3 percentage point advantage over Pryor at this point in the polling cycle.
FRC Action will also campaign in Oklahoma to support Rep. James Lankford to take the Senate seat that will be vacated by Republican Sen. Tom Coburn who is resigning because of his belief of term limits.
CWA also endorses Lankford but will be focusing more of their campaign efforts in Colorado hoping to take down Democrat incumbent Sen. Mark Udall who is running against Republican Cory Gardner. Most polls show that Gardner has a slight advantage.
Rendall said CWA is also focusing is the Alaska Senate race where Republican Dan Sullivan currently has a slight lead in the polls over Democratic incumbent Mark Begich. Rendall added that CWA has also been tracking the Senate race in New Hampshire, which features a pro-gay marriage and pro-abortion Republican candidate, Scott Brown. Although CWA refuses to endorse Brown, it is actively opposing the Democratic incumbent Jeanne Shaheen.
Mackey said the FRC launched a bus tour Friday in Nebraska where there is an open Senate seat and Republican candidate Bill Sasse has a comfortable lead in the polls. The bus tour will then swing through Kansas in support of Sen. Pat Roberts who faces stiff competition from independent candidate Greg Orman. CWA is also supporting Roberts "because the so-called independent Greg Orman is a wolf in sheep's clothes who is pro-abortion and pro-homosexual marriage," Rendall said.
In the open Senate seat in Georgia, both PACs are supporting Republican David Purdue over former Georgia Senator Sam Nunn's daughter, Michelle Nunn. FRC Action will have a bus tour in Georgia, as well.
"We have been supporting David Perdue in Georgia against Senator Sam Nunn's daughter, Michelle, because she doesn't support the same conservative issues her father did," Rendall said.
Although FRC Action PAC will have a television ad against Hagan in North Carolina, Mackey said a majority of FRC Action PAC's campaign efforts are through social media advertising. She said they are also looking for ad buys in various radio markets.
While FRC Action relies a lot on advertisements, Rendall said a majority of CWA's effort is felt through grassroots efforts and making phone calls. She said CWA is really trying to prioritize getting evangelical women out to vote. Rendall added that CWA is also stressing the importance of getting the social conservative women on college campuses out to vote, as well.