by Aaron Biterman
A headline in this week’s Tampa Tribune is titled “GOP infighting shakes party”. The article talks about a familiar 2009 theme: “An increasingly fractious challenge to the Republican Party from its own conservative base could relegate the party to indefinite minority status,” says author William March.
No state has more of a fight on its hands than Florida, where Republican Party Chair Jim Greer has, no doubt, acted illegally to prop up his favorite candidates and help his friends defeat his enemies. This was already clear when Greer had his cronies boot Republican Liberty Caucus members from the party in September. Now there are increasingly vocal calls for Greer to resign as party boss.
In Florida, State Senator Paula Dockery is challenging Attorney General Bill McCollum for the Republican nomination for Governor and Senator Carey Baker is challenging U.S. Rep. Adam Putnam in the primary for Florida Agriculture Commissioner. Both Dockery and Baker are more conservative than their moderate and establishment opponents. RLC members are supporting Dockery and Baker.
The reason that governorship is open, of course, is that Charlie Crist is running to become Florida’s junior U.S. Senator. Crist faces opposition from Marco Rubio — who has been endorsed by Senator Jim DeMint’s Senate Conservatives Fund — and former New Hampshire Senator Bob Smith.
But, never fear, the National Republican Senator Committee (NRSC) has plans to come to the rescue. As has been standard practice since the election of George W. Bush in 2000, the NRSC has already coronated its top-tier candidates for Senate in 2010 — without any regard for the opinions of GOP primary voters.
Those candidates include Crist, Carly Fiorina in California, and Trey Grayson in Kentucky. All three have more conservative and credible opponents: former Florida House Speaker Marco Rubio, California Assemblyman Chuck DeVore, and Kentucky taxpayer advocate Dr. Rand Paul.
Whatsmore, the NRSC is now encouraging its readers to take advice from Karl Rove. In an e-mail the NRSC sent out yesterday, its Communications team forwarded an article from Karl Rove to all NRSC subscribers. Rove’s article was published in The Wall Street Journal, and the NRSC team said it’s a “WSJ Editorial You Should See”.
I saw it, and — shock! — I am not impressed.
Why is the NRSC encouraging its members to listen to Karl Rove? Rove’s name has come up in many political scandals, including the Valerie Plame affair, the Bush White House e-mail controversy and the dismissal of U.S. attorneys controversy. Moreover, his strategy of “compassionate conservatism” along with his support of the Bush Doctrine are among the main reasons why Republicans lost in 2006 and 2008.
In the article, Rove says, “In Connecticut, Sen. Chris Dodd trails former Republican Rep. Rob Simmons 35% to 48% in the latest Quinnipiac poll.” Rove does not acknowledge that two other Republican candidates also poll ahead of Chris Dodd: Linda McMahon and RLC-endorsed candidate Peter Schiff. This “ignore at all costs” strategy has been something that Republican establishment candidates have been very skilled at, but has not yielded successful results.
The strategy, a familiar Rove tactic, was employed masterfully by George W. Bush throughout both terms as President, and trickled down to candidates that the NRSC and NRCC supported (mostly unsuccessfully) in 2006 and 2008 such as John Gard in Wisconsin and Darren White in New Mexico. Both Gard and White — unfamiliar names to most readers — had primary challengers that were more conservative, but simply relied on the Bush Administration and the NRCC to “ignore at all costs” these opponents. Both Gard and White went on to lose their general election contests in conservative-leaning districts. The result was Democrat pickups.
The title of Rove’s article is, “Can Republicans take back the Senate in 2010?”
The answer is yes, but not if they listen to Karl Rove or the NRSC.
The NRSC cannot be allowed to select Republican Senate candidates for GOP primary voters.
Registered Republicans in CA, CT, FL, IL, KY, and other states should select the best candidate to represent the state — without NRSC interference.