Johnson campaign committee changes name
URBANA — There's nothing politically significant about former U.S. Rep. Tim Johnson changing the name of his campaign committee, according to former Johnson aide Mark Shelden.
The Urbana Republican's campaign fund had been called "Friends of Tim Johnson."
Now it is known as "Middle Ground PAC," and is listed as a leadership political action committee.
"We've been talking about this for the last year," said Shelden, who is still listed as the treasurer of Johnson's campaign fund, "about whether we should rename and reposition the PAC. It just makes it more clear that it's not about Tim now, but that it's about Tim supporting other candidates.
"It really doesn't change things a whole lot. It doesn't change the limit on how much he can contribute to anybody."
Johnson was unavailable for comment.
Shelden said the new name of the committee is related to Johnson's independent streak and his past relationship as one of the co-founders of the Center Aisle Caucus, which aimed to promote civility and cooperation in Congress.
"The Center Aisle Caucus wasn't so much about policy as it was about the way we engage in debate, I think he'll be looking at candidates who are thoughtful and not reflexive, people who can look at both sides of an issue and make good choices," Shelden said. "I think the Middle Ground is less about ideology and more about temperament."
The name, he said, is not an indication that Johnson's PAC will be bipartisan.
"Although he can give to anybody I think it would be a fairly rare occurrence for him to give to a Democrat, but I suppose it could end up happening" Shelden said. "I suppose if there was the right person out there, maybe he would do it. I don't anticipate that happening.
"Certainly Tim had good relationships with local Democrats, so I suppose anything is possible."
Second quarter campaign disclosure reports are due this week with the Federal Election Commission, and Shelden said Johnson's latest report will contain two contributions: to the McLean County Republican Party and to Champaign City Council member Will Kyles, also a former Johnson aide.
Johnson's fund, Shelden said, has not made a donation to Urbana attorney Erika Harold, who is challenging U.S. Rep. Rodney Davis, R-Taylorville, in next year's 13th Congressional District Republican primary election.
"No, there's nothing to Erika," said Shelden, who also is an adviser to Harold's recently announced campaign.