State Freedom Caucus Network expanding reach across US, as more states set up groups
The State Freedom Caucus Network, which launched at the end of 2021 with the support of the influential House Freedom Caucus, expanded its reach throughout the U.S. on Wednesday after what organizers say was a groundbreaking 2022.
The network, run by veteran Republican strategist Andy Roth and House Freedom Caucus Executive Director Justin Ouimette, officially launched additional state caucuses in Wyoming, Montana and Idaho on Wednesday – taking the number of states it has caucuses in to 10.
The network helps establish caucuses at the state level, while offering financial support and other resources as they seek to keep their parties in line with conservative principles, in the same way that the House caucus has sought to keep leadership’s feet to the fire in Washington, often provoking the ire of powerful Republican lawmakers who see such efforts as extreme.
In an interview with Fox News Digital, Ouimette and Roth said that they intend to launch a total of between 10-15 additional states in 2023 so that they will be in half of the states by the end of the year.
'2023 is going to be an amazing year for conservatives,' Roth said. We're witnessing what's happening at federal level and that fight I think still needs to occur. And thankfully, we had the House Freedom Caucus in Congress to do that. But all of the big fights in our countries are happening at the state level.'
He mentioned school choice, election integrity and critical race theory as some of the top issues facing conservatives at the state level, although he noted that issues change depending on the individual state.
'These are big, big fights. And before the network was created, conservatives simply didn't have the organization and the strategy to fight effectively.'
The network has three prongs: an educational arm to train lawmakers on policy and procedure; the network itself to recruit conservatives at the state level; and an 'action' arm to help protect conservatives from retaliation in primaries and to expand numbers.
Across the now more than a dozen states, organizers pointed to a number of successes. In Georgia, a mental health bill underwent changes after the freedom caucus and others raised concerns that it would fund transgender surgeries and made it easier for guns to be removed from Georgians due to mental health concerns.
Meanwhile, in Mississippi, the state’s caucus helped kill an economic development bill that would have created an inter-state agency that opponents feared would be able to unaccountably levy taxes and seize property through eminent domain. But organizers say that the long-term effect may be broader than specific campaigns against individual pieces of legislation, and may instead be in patterns of voting behavior from lawmakers.
'A big difference that we expect to see are changes in voting behavior where conservatives may have taken a walk or gotten shouted down before,' Ouimette said. 'They have a built-in legislative coalition to vote with and the organization and infrastructure to communicate their ideas out and change the voting behavior of their colleagues. And I think we'll see that in the dozen states that were in.'
The network has the full support of the House Freedom Caucus itself, which is regularly a thorn in the side of Republican leadership in Washington. At time of writing on Wednesday, the caucus had successfully helped GOP Leader Kevin McCarthy from taking the speaker’s gavel. Former Speaker John Boehner had referred to the caucus as 'anarchists' who want 'total chaos.'
Current Freedom Caucus Chair Scott Perry said, in a statement to Fox Digital, that the state network in one year 'has empowered state-level conservatives to fight against local issues that directly affect their daily lives.'
'This Nationwide network is critical in providing conservatives the resources to challenge the status quo, hold the establishment accountable, and serve as the conservative conscience in state Houses across the Country,' he said. 'I look forward to continuing our efforts at the state and federal level to promote liberty, safety, and prosperity for the American People.'
Now, with 10 networks set up, organizers have one eye towards the 2024 election cycle, particularly the primaries -- where they intend to promote and support more conservative candidates to fill out their numbers at the state level.
'We’ll be ready,' Ouimette said.
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