American Crossroads, a super PAC backed by GOP strategist Karl Rove, has launched a new effort to combat the recent trend of fringe Republican candidates who have won primaries with the help of outside groups, only to lose otherwise winnable elections.
Named the Conservative Victory Project, Steven J. Law, president of American Crossroads, told the New York Times bluntly over the weekend that the program was mounted in response to "broad concern" about unviable candidates who had ultimately "blown a significant number of races."
The project will effectively serve as a foil to the organizations that have helped produce failed Senate candidates like Missouri's Todd Akin, Richard Mourdock of Indiana, Sharron Angle, who lost a Nevada Senate election in 2010, and Christine O’Donnell, who similarly lost in Delaware in 2010.
Mother Jones summarized the campaign's goal as "No more Todd Akins. No more Richard Mourdocks. No more Republican primaries that produce divisive, gaffe-spewing GOP candidates." Akin and Mourdock torpedoed their own campaigns last year after making controversial comments about rape.
As Politico reports, the effort has quickly raised the hackles of groups that have supported efforts to mine the party's ranks for candidates further to the right than the GOP establishment might prefer.
“The Conservative Defeat Project is yet another example of the Republican establishment’s hostility toward its conservative base. Rather than listening to the grassroots and working to advance their principles, the establishment has chosen to declare war on the party’s most loyal supporters,” Matt Hoskins, executive director of the Senate Conservatives Fund, said, mocking the new offshoot. “If they keep this up, the party will remain in the wilderness for decades to come.”
Club for Growth spokesman Barney Keller responded by invoking past successes of conservative challengers.
“They are welcome to support the likes of Arlen Specter, Charlie Crist and David Dewhurst,” Keller said. “We will continue to proudly support the likes of Pat Toomey, Marco Rubio and Ted Cruz.”
The unlimited money afforded to the Conservative Victory Project by its super PAC status will likely help fund brutal intra-party primary battles in the 2014 election cycle. As the Washington Post notes, however, cash often plays less into primaries because turnout in those contests is "decidedly low and dominated by the activist bases of each party -- people who tend to be somewhat immune to the TV ad wars."