"ShePAC" rallies for conservative Republican women

WASHINGTON Tue Feb 7, 2012 3:23pm EST

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WASHINGTON (Reuters) - An adviser to Sarah Palin, a Tea Party leader and a Republican politician are starting a super PAC to endorse conservative women running for office and gather women's support for the Republican nominee in the presidential election.

The political action committee, called ShePAC, is the brainchild of Tim Crawford, who has advised 2008 vice presidential nominee Palin and former President Ronald Reagan; Teri Christoph, one of the original Tea Party activists; and Suzanne Haik Terrell, former Senate candidate from Louisiana who now runs Project GoPink, a group that encourages Republican women to run for office.

The group filed registration documents with the Federal Election Commission on Tuesday to create the super PAC, its leaders said.

ShePAC is the latest super PAC to join dozens of such outside groups that can now raise unlimited amounts of money as long as they do not work in concert with official campaigns, thanks to a 2010 U.S. Supreme Court decision.

Outside groups already have spent more than $54 million on congressional and presidential races this campaigning season, taking over most of the negative advertising and pumping up the cost of running campaigns in traditionally cheaper state races.

ShePAC hopes to raise $25 million by tapping both grassroots and establishment donors. The money would go toward helping Republican women win state and federal races and bring the women's vote to the Republican Party nominee opposing Democratic President Barack Obama in the November 6 general election, according to a source involved in the planning.

"We firmly believe that women will make the difference in 2012 and beyond, not just at the ballot box but as candidates," Terrell said. "We seek ... to increase the number of Republican women office holders on all levels with both financial and organizational support."

Republicans need just four seats in the Senate to take control as the majority party. ShePAC leaders point out that only 5.5 percent of Congress is held by conservative women. One of them is Representative Michele Bachmann, a Tea Party favorite who dropped her presidential bid last month after a poor finish in the first nominating contest in Iowa.

Republican women are in Senate races in Hawaii, New Mexico, Missouri, Nebraska, Virginia and Connecticut.

ShePAC also may be a vehicle for Wisconsin Lieutenant Governor Rebecca Kleefisch, who has already joined the group's Facebook page. She is facing a recall election alongside Governor Scott Walker after they curtailed collective bargaining rights of unionized public workers and sparked efforts to unseat them and fellow Republicans.

(Reporting by Alina Selyukh; Editing by Mary Milliken and Bill Trott)

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