Republican whales want more input into Senate races
Big donors in the GOP are tired of pouring money into races that feature the like of Todd Aiken and Richard Mourdock as candidates. They have formed a group who will back more establishment candidates, as well as give cash to incumbents being primaried by anyone they view as being "unelectable."
The group, the Conservative Victory Project, is intended to counter other organizations that have helped defeat establishment Republican candidates over the last two election cycles. It is the most robust attempt yet by Republicans to impose a new sense of discipline on the party, particularly in primary races.
"There is a broad concern about having blown a significant number of races because the wrong candidates were selected," said Steven J. Law, the president of American Crossroads, the "super PAC" creating the new project. "We don't view ourselves as being in the incumbent protection business, but we want to pick the most conservative candidate who can win."
The effort would put a new twist on the Republican-vs.-Republican warfare that has consumed the party's primary races in recent years. In effect, the establishment is taking steps to fight back against Tea Party groups and other conservative organizations that have wielded significant influence in backing candidates who ultimately lost seats to Democrats in the general election.
The first test of the group's effort to influence primary races could come here in Iowa, where some Republicans are already worrying about who will run for the seat being vacated by Senator Tom Harkin, a Democrat. It is the first open Senate seat in Iowa since 1974, and Republicans are fearful of squandering a rare opportunity.
The Conservative Victory Project, which is backed by Karl Rove and his allies who built American Crossroads into the largest Republican super PAC of the 2012 election cycle, will start by intensely vetting prospective contenders for Congressional races to try to weed out candidates who are seen as too flawed to win general elections.
Ultimately, this kind of bloodletting is self-defeating. If the big shots don't want to give to a candidate like Steven King, a darling of the tea party but someone who has also compared illegal immigrants to dogs, they don't have to. And backers of King should not expect them to. King isn't owed any loyalty or money from anyone outside of Iowa - including the national party who may not want to waste millions of dollars in backing who they see as a loser.
There are some candidates who can't win no matter how much money is thrown their way. King may or may not be one of those candidates - I suspect his flammable remarks over the years makes him unelectable statewide - but for him to expect big donors to automatically give him cash because of the "R" after his name is a little too much to hope for.
I can see what the whales want to accomplish but they are only muddying the waters. Let the primary process go forward and make no decisions about who to support until the dust settles.