Republicans may be rebranding, but no amount of gloss and buzzwords will cover up and spin away the civil war within its ranks. The question is, will the GOP establishment survive this time?
I’m talking about the battle of the Super-PACs between Karl Rove and the Tea Party Patriots. After the drumming Republicans took in the 2012 election, Rove vowed to use his new Super-PAC, the Conservative Victory Project, to flush out hard-right insurgents he blamed for taking the party too far to the right on social issues and alienating just about any reasonable voter still willing to consider voting Republican. Naturally, in response, the Tea Party Patriots shot back, launching its own Super-PAC to fight back against any primary challengers Rove and the establishment support in 2014.
“He sounds like he’s challenging us, and we’re ready to rise to the challenge,” Jenny Beth Martin, founder of the Tea Party Patriots, told The Hill. “I’m going to be engaging with the donors over the next several weeks to let them know what we’re doing and to show them that we can do what the Republican Party is not doing right now, which is building a ground game,” Martin said.
Rove is not known for holding his punches, and he’s been very clear what this new super-PAC is designed to do and insist that it is merely a reflection of concern among Republicans that conservative candidates, like former Missouri Senate candidate and Representative Todd Akin, made it through primaries in 2012 only to lose what should have been easy pickup opportunities for the GOP. “Some people think the best we can do is Todd Akin and Richard Mourdock — they’re wrong,” Rove told Fox News. The CVP was created specifically to engage in primary races going into 2014 with the aim, Rove said, of backing “the most conservative candidate who can win.”
Okay, I’ll admit it. I’m enjoying this public spat a little bit, if only because Karl Rove so, so deserves it and because the Tea Party Patriots are perhaps the single greatest electoral gift to progressives in modern memory. And while those like Rand Paul and Deb Fischer who managed to win elections have proven to be of little use in governing, they are making it clearer to Americans that their modern conservative movement has more in common with the Taliban than Ronald Reagan’s legacy. Also, conservatives have unabashedly embraced the idea of unlimited campaign spending in elections, so let them spend themselves out of electoral significance. Each dollar they have to raise in primary challenges is five more they will have to raise in the general election. Maybe the best way to get significant campaign finance reform is to force the right to spend itself to death.
In the meantime, start the popcorn, kids, because the 2014 election season has already started, and it promises to be a doozie.
Photo from Gage Skidmore via flickr.