A prominent evangelical conservative will be taking over day-to-day operations of a super PAC backing Ted Cruz, further connecting the conservative senator to the religious Christian community, a core constituency for his presidential bid.
David Barton, a champion of promoting faith in public life, is an author and activist, and well-known in conservative donor circles. He will be running Keep the Promise PAC, one of a cluster of super PACs that together raised $38 million so far to aid Cruz.
Cruz has made outreach to evangelicals a central piece of his campaign: he announced for president at Liberty University, one of the largest Christian schools in the world; his father, Rafael Cruz, is a prominent pastor; and he recently rolled out an initiative to tap a pastor to represent his campaign in each of Iowa’s 99 counties. On Tuesday, he visited Kim Davis, the Kentucky county clerk who was jailed for refusing to grant same-sex marriage licenses, to show solidarity. And last month, he held a large rally in support of religious freedom in Des Moines. The super PAC’s tapping of Barton will further aid Cruz’s efforts to ally himself with the religious community.
Barton’s position was previously held by Toby Neugebauer, a wealthy energy mogul and the son of Rep. Randy Neugebauer of Texas. Neugebauer, who spends most of his time in Puerto Rico, gave up the position because of logistical challenges, he said.
“It’s 2300 miles from Puerto Rico to Texas,” he said, confirming the move, which was first reported by Bloomberg. “ I am not prepared to leave my kids for 14 months.”
Barton is not without controversy: In 2012, his Christian book publisher stopped publishing and distributing one of his books, citing significant inaccuracies. And he has raised the ire of groups like the Southern Poverty Law Center over his criticism of gay people.