Look Who’s Back: Where Mitt Romney Is Lending Campaign Help in 2014

The former presidential candidate is appearing in ads, writing endorsement letters, and giving money in a few select races.

Mitt Romney
National Journal
Andrea Drusch
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Andrea Drusch
April 18, 2014, 11:26 a.m.

After a long spell out­side the polit­ic­al spot­light, Mitt Rom­ney is quietly be­gin­ning to lend a hand to a se­lect few Re­pub­lic­an can­did­ates in midterm races. There’s no doubt that a nod from former top name on the GOP tick­et has value, es­pe­cially fin­an­cially. But how do the party, can­did­ates, and Rom­ney him­self know when and where the failed pres­id­en­tial can­did­ate should get in­volved?

For the can­did­ates who ul­ti­mately get his help, the res­ults are pub­lic re­cord: In the past month, Rom­ney has twice lent his name to can­did­ates run­ning in those two all-im­port­ant primary states where he spent so much time in 2011, Iowa and New Hamp­shire. Fed­er­al cam­paign fin­ance re­cords show that his former cam­paign fund, Rom­ney for Pres­id­ent, has cut checks for $2,000 each to five can­did­ates in com­pet­it­ive races.

As GOP can­did­ates gear up for an­oth­er year of primary battles, his sup­port could be a valu­able en­dorse­ment for primary can­did­ates in need of con­ser­vat­ive bona fides or a gen­er­al-elec­tion boost in a state Rom­ney cap­tured in 2012. In oth­er cases, it looks like the former gov­ernor is help­ing along someone who helped him in his own bid for of­fice.

On Tues­day, Rom­ney starred in a U.S. Cham­ber of Com­merce ad for Rep. Mike Simpson of Idaho, tout­ing a fa­mil­i­ar mes­sage of “out-of-con­trol” spend­ing in D.C. Speak­ing from a room that looks vaguely like the Oval Of­fice, Rom­ney en­dorses Simpson as the true “con­ser­vat­ive choice” to com­bat “Wash­ing­ton’s waste­ful spend­ing.”

Rom­ney took Idaho with more than 64 per­cent of the vote in 2012, and his face on TV could be a boon to Simpson, es­pe­cially with Mor­mon primary voters, ahead of a for­mid­able chal­lenge from Club for Growth-backed at­tor­ney Bry­an Smith.

On Wed­nes­day, Rom­ney sent an email to pro­spect­ive donors on be­half of once-and-pos­sibly-fu­ture Sen. Scott Brown of Mas­sachu­setts, “a proven Re­pub­lic­an lead­er who shares our val­ues,” as Rom­ney put it.

Last month Rom­ney weighed in on the crowded Iowa primary, tap­ping state Sen. Joni Ernst as Re­pub­lic­ans’ best shot to de­feat Demo­crat­ic Rep. Bruce Bra­ley in a race where Re­pub­lic­ans have long been con­cerned about the pro­spect of end­ing up with a weak nom­in­ee.

Rom­ney has made two en­dorse­ments in Nevada, a state Obama took in 2012 but also one where Mor­mon polit­ic­al in­flu­ence is strong. Rom­ney vis­ited the state in March to raise money for Rep. Joe Heck at a private home, The Wash­ing­ton Post re­por­ted in a look at the de­lib­er­a­tions be­hind Rom­ney’s re­cent polit­ic­al ree­m­er­gence. That ap­pear­ance led to his re­cent help for lieu­ten­ant-gov­ernor can­did­ate (and fel­low Mor­mon) Mark Hutchis­on, who sought Rom­ney’s help at the Heck fun­draiser, The Post re­ports.

Mean­while, Rom­ney’s former cam­paign fund has doled out cash in sev­er­al races, primar­ily to can­did­ates with strong ties to the former can­did­ate. The cam­paign gave to Vir­gin­ia state le­gis­lat­or Bar­bara Com­stock, who worked on Rom­ney’s 2008 cam­paign and is run­ning for re­tir­ing Rep. Frank Wolf’s open seat in North­ern Vir­gin­ia. Former Re­pub­lic­an Na­tion­al Com­mit­tee Chair­man Ed Gillespie’s Vir­gin­ia Sen­ate cam­paign also got a dona­tion.

In up­state New York, Rom­ney’s com­mit­tee cut a check to former George W. Bush and Paul Ry­an aide Elise Stefanik in the open race to re­place Demo­crat­ic Rep. Bill Owens. It also gave to former Cali­for­nia state Sen. Tony Strick­land, a two-time state Rom­ney cam­paign chair­man mak­ing his second bid for the House of Rep­res­ent­at­ives.

The for­mula for a Rom­ney en­dorse­ment isn’t sol­id sci­ence yet — he has, ac­cord­ing to The Post‘s re­port­ing, turned down en­treat­ies from oth­er con­nec­ted cam­paign­ers, like his former Illinois cam­paign chair­man Dan Ruther­ford, who made an un­suc­cess­ful run for gov­ernor there. But the let­ters, the money, the travel, and the on-cam­era en­dorse­ment make it clear he’s will­ing to use some of his free time to pitch in where he can — and the num­ber of can­did­ates get­ting Rom­ney’s help can only grow.

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