Club for Growth-Affiliated Super PAC Launches $400K in TV and Radio Attack Ads Against Kurt Winstead and Beth Harwell in TN-5 Race

On Friday, a Club for Growth-affiliated federal super PAC, the School Freedom Fund PAC, launched a nearly $400,000 television and radio attack advertising blitz against Kurt Winstead and Beth Harwell in the August 4 Republican primary in the race for Tennessee’s 5th Congressional District seat.

The ads attack Winstead’s Democrat voter and donor history as well as Harwell’s endorsement in the 2018 Tennessee governor’s race from a teacher’s association that endorsed in both the Republican and Democrat primaries.

In the 2018 race for governor of Tennessee, the Tennessee Education Association Fund for Children and Public Education (TEA-FCPE) endorsed Beth Harwell in the Republican Primary for Governor, and Craig Fitzhugh in the Democratic Primary for Governor.

The TEA is the Tennessee state affiliate of the radically liberal National Education Association (NEA).

In their 2018 statement, the TEA said they gave their endorsement in the Republican primary to Harwell because, “Harwell was recognized as the only educator in the race—her talks about testing and TNReady issues showed deep knowledge and concern about assessments and their use—and for her work to ensure state teacher salary funds get into teacher paychecks.”

Winstead, has a voter and donation history that includes donations to Democrat candidates and causes in federal, state, and local races.

Recently reported, a search of the Tennessee Online Campaign Finance website, which contains campaign finance reports dating back to at least 2000, shows that Winstead personally donated on at least seven occasions to Democratic campaigns.

In federal races, Kurt Winstead donated $1,000 to Democrat U.S. Senate nominee and former U.S. Representative Harold Ford Jr. in the 2006 race against former U.S. Senator Bob Corker. In 2007, records show Kurt Winstead donated $250 to the Tennessee Democratic Party. In 2008, the TN-5 candidate donated $300 to Democrat Bob Tuke’s U.S. Senate campaign.

In 2010, Kurt Winstead donated $1,000 to Democrat Brett Carter.

Harwell, the first female Speaker of the Tennessee House of Representatives and a former chair of the Tennessee Republican Party, has an exclusively Republican primary voter and GOP candidate donation history.

Additionally, Harwell was appointed to the board of the Tennessee Valley Authority by former President Donald Trump in 2020.

FEC records show that the super PAC’s sole donor for the 2022 cycle has Jeff Yass, who donated a grand total of $15 million the PAC. Yass is options trader, a co-founder and managing director of the Philadelphia-based Susquehanna International Group (SIG), and member of the executive advisory council of the Cato Institute.

The PAC has spent money this cycle to support and oppose several candidates, including opposition to Trump-endorsed candidate Jake Evans in the race for GA-6.

The Club for Growth-controlled School Freedom Fund PAC also supported Trump-endorsed candidates Adam Laxalt and Ted Budd in the Nevada and North Carolina Republican primaries for U.S. Senate, respectively.

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Aaron Gulbransen is a reporter at The Tennessee Star and The Star News Network. Email tips to [email protected]. Follow Aaron on GETTRTwitterTruth Social, and Parler.
Photo “Kurt Winstead” by Kurt Winstead. Photo “Beth Harwell” by Beth Harwell. Background Photo “U.S. Capitol” by DXR. CC BY-SA 4.0.

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8 Thoughts to “Club for Growth-Affiliated Super PAC Launches $400K in TV and Radio Attack Ads Against Kurt Winstead and Beth Harwell in TN-5 Race”

  1. aries9899

    Stuart, I would not vote for Harwell knowing she pushed the gas tax just because it was something Haslam wanted and the same goes for Johnson. Both knew that was zero reason to increase the gas tax yet both went for it. We know Johnson’s reward, I’m not sure what Harwell’s reward is except she’s probably received a huge donation from the Haslam coffers.

    If there had been a compelling argument to increase the state’s gas tax at a time when there was a $2 Billion surplus I would be open to looking past it. But there was no compelling reason.

  2. Redcoat

    Harwell can’t win she doesn’t have the support outside Belleview – Ogles is the man to win for real conservatives.

    1. Stuart I. Anderson

      Sorry Redcoat, I live in Brentwood and everyone I speak to knows Beth and the vast majority are favorably disposed to her. “Ogles [certainly] is the man to win for real conservatives” but he decided that he wasn’t going to take the trouble of having fundraisers, sending out mailings, advertise on media i.e. run a real honest to goodness campaign. He therefore can’t win, but he does have an excellent chance of capturing enough conservative votes, so Beth doesn’t win either which means the “Tough ole’ [former Democratic] General” with the Democratic lobbyist wife wins. As a result, CNSERVATIVES LOSE.

  3. Donna Locke

    There is no true conservative in this race, but I will be voting for Beth Harwell.

    1. Redcoat

      Why vote for the least conservative? I suppose Natisha Brooks gets that prize, but I mean people who can win.

  4. Stuart I. Anderson

    Trevor and Aries YOU ARE MISSING THE VITAL QUESTION IN THIS ELECTION!!! Unfortunately, it ISN’T Andy Ogles conservatism. I sent the guy $2,900 because he was simply the most proven conservative in this race. You know that, and I know that, but there is only one problem, his embarrassing failure to run a creditable campaign means that nowhere near enough conservatives who aren’t political activists will know that SO HE CAN’T WIN.

    Thus, since Andy can’t win and doesn’t want to win the vital question for conservatives is how the heck do we prevent General Weathervane from winning because he is so utterly awful? There is only one answer BETH HARWELL (ACU-86%)!!!! See that 86%? That means to prevent the ole’ General’s election we are tactically falling back to someone with a solid conservative voting record when she was in the General Assembly.


  5. Trevor

    Harwell, also delayed educational vouchers, firearms constitutional carry and did nothing to field GOP candidates in Davidson county. Andy Ogles is the real conservative. Ogles just vetoed a property tax increase! You don’t have to guess if he is a conservative. If you like democrats Harwell and Winstead are your best choice! If you want a real conservative please vote for Ogles!

    How do you like the Harwell gas prices?

  6. Aries9899

    My beef with Beth Harwell surrounds the gas tax increase pushed by Gov Haslam. Harwell, as Speaker of the House, pushed the gas tax increase bill through the TN House. Nothing happens in the House unless the Speaker wants it to happen so obviously Harwell was pro gas tax.

    These candidates talk about their “conservative” credentials but they all leave out the 2017 gas tax increase. That goes for Jack Johnson and Beth Harwell. I also remember Gov Bill Lee being questioned about this when he was running for Governor. If he was willing to cancel this gas tax increase bill and his response was it’s in the past – just forget about it. That’s when I knew Bill Lee was no different than Haslam.