The House Freedom Caucus has endorsed a failed GOP establishment candidate backed by Liz Cheney and Kevin McCarthy for Congress in Pennsylvania’s 8th District, throwing their support behind former Mitt Romney staffer Jim Bognet, who lost the race for the same seat in 2020.
Bognet, a former Mitt Romney and John McCain staffer who has had his congressional ambitions backed by Liz Cheney and Kevin McCarthy, lost the 2020 race for the 8th District seat to Democrat Rep. Matt Cartwright. Back then, Bognet was the clear establishment candidate in a wide GOP primary field and used a pro-establishment PAC run by his family and friends to launch attacks on his opponents. The attacks created a major divide between Bognet and the grassroots voters who back President Trump, a group he already struggled to connect with thanks to his reputation as a DC insider.
As voters in the 8th District have learned, before his run for Congress, Bognet spent virtually his entire adult life inside the GOP and uni-party establishment, even helping to launch the political career of anti-Trump Californian Arnold Schwarzenegger, a prominent supporter of COVID-19 mask and vaccine mandates. More recently, Bognet worked at a Democrat-founded lobbying firm, The Glover Park Group, and despite his claims of being a Trump supporter, Bognet didn’t even vote in the 2016 Presidential Election as the Trump movement triumphed over Hillary Clinton and the political establishment.
Though the Freedom Caucus claims to be anti-establishment, they endorsed Jim Bognet through their House Freedom Fund, saying in a fundraising email that he “will help strengthen the House Freedom Caucus and fight for America’s future,” making no mention of his deep establishment ties as he tries to re-invent himself. The Freedom Caucus email even attacks Bognet’s truly grassroots primary race opponent, former Hazleton Mayor Mike Marsicano, an ardent supporter of President Trump who used to be a working-class Democrat and is running in the primary as an America First alternative to the McCarthy/Cheney-backed Bognet.
“Jim Bognet is running against a former Democrat in the Republican Primary,” the Freedom Caucus email reads, painting Marsicano as if he’s the one with a record he’s trying to hide, like Bognet himself is. Jim Bognet “needs your urgent support,” the email continued, stressing that the GOP’s chances of victory have gone up thanks to a redrawn map that appears to lean right.
The email doesn’t once mention Kevin McCarthy or Liz Cheney’s support of Jim Bognet, despite him frequently boasting of his McCarthy backing on his campaign social media accounts. Ironically, while 8th District locals have come to refer to Bognet as “Beltway” Jim Bognet, the Freedom Caucus email includes a quote from Ohio Rep. Jim Jordan, who has come under increasing scrutiny for his quiet establishment ties, claiming that “The House Freedom Fund helps grassroots candidates get the financial support they need to compete with establishment candidates.”
Leader @kevinomccarthy’s endorsement speaks volumes, and I thank him for his support and leadership.
— Jim Bognet (@Bognet4congress) March 30, 2022