No more Todd Akins. No more Richard Mourdocks. No more Republican primaries that produce divisive, gaffe-spewing GOP candidates.
That’s the aim of a new super-PAC, the Conservative Victory Fund, spearheaded by Karl Rove and his big-money juggernaut, American Crossroads. Rove’s new project plans to raise millions of dollars from the biggest GOP donors and then spend it on hard-hitting television ads and mailers during GOP primaries in marquee Senate races. The goal, as the New York Times reported this weekend, is blocking future Akins and Mourdocks from winning Senate primaries, while paving the way for less-divisive candidates with broader appeal and better odds of winning the general election. “We don’t view ourselves as being in the incumbent protection business, but we want to pick the most conservative candidate who can win,” Steven Law, the president of American Crossroads and a force behind the Conservative Victory Fund, told the Times.
Law singled out Rep. Steve King (R-Iowa), who could run to replace outgoing Democratic Sen. Tom Harkin, as a controversial candidate the Conservative Victory Fund might target. King has a penchant for howlers: He’s hinted at questions about President Obama’s US citizenship, claimed minority students all “feel sorry for themselves,” insisted that the idea of diversity making American stronger “has really never been backed up by logic,” and compared illegal immigrants to dogs. “We’re concerned about Steve King’s Todd Akin problem,” Law said. “All of the things he’s said are going to be hung around his neck.” (King, for his part, said choosing the candidate to replace Harkin “is a decision for Iowans to make and should not be guided by some political staffers in Washington.”)
The Conservative Victory Fund’s creation threatens to stoke an already fiery internal battle over the future of the Republican Party. There are the Roves and Laws of the GOP, the pragmatic Beltway operators who backed Mitt Romney and who believe the party must tone down the demagoguery on immigration and social issues if they ever want to control of Congress and the White House again. On the other side are the ideologues, the GOP’s conservative wing, the Koch-backed groups and tea partiers and Grover Norquist acolytes who believe the party’s future lies in veering hard to the right and doubling down on pure conservative ideals.
With Rove’s new super-PAC in the mix, the GOP’s slate of 2014 primaries will be even nastier than expected in states such as Iowa, Georgia, and Kentucky, among others. The GOP needs to win six seats in 2014 to take back control of the Senate, and if that requires some intraparty combat, the Conservative Victory Fund looks ready to go to war. By the end of 2014’s primary season, don’t be surprised, to borrow a phrase from Massachusetts Sen. Elizabeth Warren, to see quite a lot of blood and teeth left on the floor.