On Feb. 3, the American Crossroads organization announced the formation of a project to influence the outcome of GOP U.S. Senate primaries in the 2014 election cycle, according to a report on Politico.com.
American Crossroads is a non-profit organization co-founded by former White House adviser Karl Rove, who is viewed by many conservative political insiders as the unofficial strategist for the Republican establishment. The group will form a Super PAC – ironically dubbed the “Conservative Victory Project” – with the goal of helping establishment-backed primary challengers overcome the power of Tea Party voters, libertarians, and grass-roots conservative activists.
In the 2012 election, Rove’s group spent $300 million supporting establishment candidates in U.S. Senate races and on behalf of Mitt Romney. The GOP failed to win control of the senate and Romney lost to President Barack Obama.
Organizations like the Club for Growth and the Senate Conservatives Fund derided the Rove-backed venture as an attempt to enforce a top-down hierarchy on the way the party selects its candidates. Both groups pointed to their success in helping elect U.S. senators such as Sen. Marco Rubio, Sen. Rand Paul, Sen. Pat Toomey, and Sen. Ted Cruz.
In fact, the two grass-roots conservative groups have evidence to support the fact that they possess a better election scorecard at winning U.S. Senate races than the establishment candidates backed by Rove and American Crossroads.
Sen. Marco Rubio, Sen. Rand Paul, and Sen. Ted Cruz actually had to overcome primary candidates heavily favored by establishment Republicans to win their seats.
Establishment Republican senate candidates were defeated in states Mitt Romney lost in landslides and also in states he won by large margins. The only consistent theme seems to be that voters do not feel much attraction to rank-and-file establishment Republican politicians anymore. President Barack Obama and his allies exploited that friction during the contentious fiscal cliff negotiations.
As the 2016 Republican presidential field includes names like Sen. Marco Rubio, Sen. Rand Paul, and Sen. Ted Cruz, the internal battle within the GOP will play a pivotal role in determining the party's next presidential candidate to succeed President Barack Obama.
Steven Holmes is the Los Angeles Political Buzz Examiner.