PAC linked to Club for Growth hits Harwell, Winstead in 5th District race

The School Freedom Fund, a PAC tied to the Washington-based Club for Growth, is sending out mailers attacking Beth Harwell and Kurt Winstead as not sufficiently Republican to represent the state in the 5th Congressional District.

Harwell is a former speaker of the state House of Representatives and a onetime chair of the Tennessee Republican Party. Winstead is a retired brigadier general in the Tennessee National Guard. According to the group, both are “beholden to liberal Democrats.” The mailers cite Harwell’s vote for then-Gov. Bill Haslam’s 6-cent gas tax hike in 2017 and her endorsement from the Tennessee Education Association, the state’s largest teachers’ union, during her unsuccessful bid for governor in 2018. Winstead is criticized for giving more than $2,500 in campaign donations to Democrats (unmentioned are the more than $7,000 he has given to Republicans over the last four years, including $3,000 to Republican Gov. Bill Lee).

The mailers appear to try to boost the prospects of Maury County Mayor Andy Ogles. The Club for Growth was last active in a Tennessee congressional race in 2020 in the open 1st District race, backing former state Rep. Timothy Hill (R-Blountville). Diana Harshbarger won the nomination with 19% of the vote, compared with 16.7% for Hill and 16.1% for state Sen. Rusty Crowe.