Shutdown Fallout Sparks Internal GOP Money War
The fallout from the government shutdown has hit the Republican Party hard, finally causing establishment Republicans to see exactly what kind of damage ultra-conservative Tea Partiers can cause the GOP brand. After years of being outspent by Tea Party primary challengers with large amounts of funding from uber-rich donors, establishment Republicans are planning a serious primary war to wrest the party away from the well-funded far right.
Former congressman Steve LaTourette has started a new PAC called Defending Main Street with the goal of helping raise money for establishment Republicans to fend off Tea Party challengers in the primaries. His first project will be to save the seat of Idaho congressman Mike Simpson who has been targeted by Tea Partiers because he voted in favor of the Wall Street bailout.
Even former Bush Administration string-puller Karl Rove, who helped usher in the conservative movement around the United States, is now using his Crossroads PAC to support the most viable Republican candidates in the primary to avoid embarrassing defeats like we are seeing in Virginia with Tea Party-backed Ken Cuccinelli being trounced in the polls.
The irony is that the Tea Party movement, in large part, helped the Republicans seal control of the House of Representatives. As it turned out, they quickly hijacked the party away from the establishment, leaving leaders like John Boehner with their hands tied when any vote comes up. For years, the Tea Party has threatened to send strong primary challenges up against any Republican who doesn’t vote down the party line.
Now, after years of stopping any government action, the Tea Party may have gone too far in the eyes of their establishment colleagues. The government shutdown has caused favorability of the Republican Party to drop to an all-time low, perhaps causing irreversible damage to the party heading into the 2014 midterms. Of course, with only a temporary budget in place to fund the government until January, another shutdown standoff seems inevitable and could plunge the GOP into an even bigger hole with voters during an election year. If the establishment cannot win the party back, we may be seeing the end of the Republican Party as we know it.