An under-the-radar east coast “Super PAC” quietly spent over a quarter million dollars and lost an Oregon Congressional primary this year.
The American Unity PAC, which has led a nationwide effort to promote same-sex marriage within the Republican Party, spent over $255,000 supporting Ben West for Oregon’s 5th Congressional District. West received just under 21% of the vote in the three-way Republican Primary. Colm Willis won with over 57% of the vote. For perspective, the American Unity PAC spent more in this election than all the Republican candidates spent combined.
The American Unity PAC is an Independent Expenditure Only PAC, more commonly known as a Super PAC. This new type of PAC has been making a lot of news this election year, mainly due to the numerous Super PACs created to support or oppose presidential candidates. Super PACs were created after the Citizens United U.S. Supreme Court Decision and are a vehicle for unlimited spending supporting or opposing candidates, so long as the money is spent independent of the candidates.
Singer launched the Super PAC in 2012 as part of the American Unity Fund. The organization is committed to removing socially conservative planks from the Republican platform and supporting pro-LGBT Republican candidates across the nation.
The American Unity PAC’s expensive defeat in Oregon’s CD 5 was followed by a sweeping loss at the Oregon Republican Convention on June 4th. The American Unity Fund has been organizing and pouring millions into an effort to elect delegates from states across the country that would favor changing the traditional marriage plank of the Republican Party platform. However, a coalition of conservatives from across the state won 22 of the 25 delegate positions that will be going to the National Convention in Cleveland next week.
“I think what you’re seeing in Oregon is a strong statement from Republican voters that they want to elect candidates who represent their values, and that includes protecting the family from state intrusion,” said Jack Louman, Executive Director of the Oregon Family Council, which supports traditional marriage and has been fighting to protect religious liberty in Oregon. “Over a quarter million dollars were spent supporting a candidate that Republican voters rejected by 36%. I don’t think they could have been much clearer.”
Reaching from the Coast to the Cascades, Oregon’s 5th Congressional District (CD5) encompasses Lincoln, Marion, Polk and Tillamook counties as well as most of Clackamas County and parts of Benton and Multnomah counties. Primary winner Colm Willis will face four-term incumbent Democrat Kurt Schrader in the November election. If he wins, Willis will become the first Republican U.S. Representative for CD 5 in 20 years.