Major GOP division exposed in deleted post by right-wing spin machine

After the recent dust up over conservative group Club for Growth airing an ad attacking former Wisconsin Governor Tommy Thompson (R) for stepping into the U.S. Senate race, a new controversy has surfaced after One Wisconsin Now unconvered a deleted post by conservative spin machine MediaTrackers.

The communications director for MediaTrackers — a Washington, DC-area conservative spin machine focused on Wisconsin — posted a story on August 24 about a major rift between the national Club for Growth group which ran the ad and the Wisconsin Club for Growth which has defended Tommy Thompson. MediaTrackers has since removed the story from its website, but One Wisconsin Now was able to retrieve using a cached version, which read in part:

Yet in an interesting move, the day after the national Club for Growth expressed concerns over Thompson’s anemic record of fiscal conservatism, the Wisconsin Club issued this contradictory statement (which is not listed among the other statements on their website):

“While WICFG does not intend to issue statements or offer opinions regarding the positions of candidates for U.S. Senate, we recognize Governor Tommy Thompson’s significant contributions to improving Wisconsin’s economy and reforming government.

“Governor Thompson served the citizens of Wisconsin with distinction for fourteen years.”

Among fiscal conservatives, the Club for Growth is considered the gold standard and is raising some valid concerns about Governor Thompson’s record in Wisconsin. Then, inexplicably perhaps, the state-level Club for Growth says that the national organization has it all wrong and rushes to defend the former governor. Apparently, one group is using a different yardstick than the other group is using.

While the outcome of this apparently not-so-internal confusion between Club for Growth and its Wisconsin branch remains to be seen, the split between the two Clubs over something as straightforward as Thompson’s moderate-at-best record on things like healthcare and taxes is likely to create an interesting dynamic as the 2012 election season begins in earnest.

The rift between the national group and the Wisconsin group has potential to be damaging to the GOP for yet another reason: Wisconsin Club for Growth is headed up by RJ Johnson, a paid consultant to Gov. Scott Walker, while the national group is a huge player in Wisconsin political races, having spent over $3 million in the recent recall elections which allegedly flowed through a Post Office box it has in Sun Prairie, Wisc.

The growing divide between the two major conservative organizations and their complicated relationships with recall target Gov. Walker and possible U.S. Senate candidate Tommy Thompson is likely worrying Wisconsin Republicans heading into 2012.

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