Don’t Buy Karl Rove’s B.S.

Karl Rove

Updated at 10:40 a.m.
The Associated Press
 carried an interesting article today detailing how spending by Republican establishment Super PACs is way down so far down this election cycle.

According to writers Steve Peoples and Thomas Beaumont, “Groups such as American Crossroads [run by Karl Rove] and the U.S. Chamber of Commerce no longer are willing to risk major investments on hard-line conservatives who embarrassed GOP leaders last fall and rattled the confidence of party donors. Many remain concerned after last month’s government shutdown highlighted Republican divisions.”

Jonathan Collegio, a spokesman for Rove’s Super PAC American Crossroads, told Peoples and Beaumont that the reason is, “Unlike previous cycles, we won’t be sending good money after substandard candidates with weak campaigns.”

This is pure B.S. – the big business-oriented Republican establishment Super PACs didn’t support “hard-line” conservatives in the 2012 election cycle – they were mostly for the losing establishment Republican candidates in the GOP primaries.

What’s more, both Todd Akin in Missouri and Richard Mourdock in Indiana made the comments that blew-up their campaigns AFTER they had won their primaries. There was no evidence going into the primary that either of them was “substandard.”

Indeed, both were longtime Republican politicians and the very fact that they each won a hard-fought primary against seasoned opponents is good evidence that, absent an attack of foot-in-mouth disease, either or both could have won.

We would also note for the record that Virginia’s George Allen blew-up his Senate campaign in 2006 with a racially charged foot-in-mouth comment and Rove and company did not try to drum him out of the Republican Party – they supported him in the 2012 Republican Senate primary and allowed him to swamp his principled limited government constitutional conservative opponent and proceed to run a weak campaign and lose in November.

Club for Growth President Chris Chocola had it pretty well right when he told NewsMax that, “I think there might be some money that is wasted because the question isn’t why Todd Akin and Richard Mourdock lost — we know why they lost,” said Chocola. “The question is really why did Heather Wilson in New Mexico, Rick Berg in North Dakota, Denny Rehberg in Montana, Tommy Thompson in Wisconsin, George Allen in Virginia and Linda Lingle in Hawaii — why did they lose?”

We could add Mitt Romney nationally and Connie Mack in Florida as well, but you get the point – there’s no evidence that running as a principled limited government constitutional conservative automatically made a candidate “unelectable,” and a whole lot of evidence that running as a Bush-type establishment Republican did make one “unelectable.”

As First Lady of the conservative movement Phyllis Schlafly detailed in a post-election column, “Of the 31 races in which Rove aired TV ads, Republicans won only 9, so his donors got little return on their investment… Rove’s Establishment losers included Rick Berg who lost in North Dakota and Denny Rehberg who lost in Montana, even while Romney was carrying both those states. Other Establishment losers were George Allen in Virginia, Tommy Thompson in Wisconsin, Connie Mack in Florida and Heather Wilson in New Mexico.”

The reality is that the big successes of the 2012 election were the election of principled constitutional conservatives such as Ted Cruz, Jeff Flake, and Deb Fisher to the Senate, the election of conservative Mike Pence as Governor of Indiana and the election of Tom Massie, Trey Radel, Jim Bridenstine, Steve Stockman and other limited government constitutional conservative “boat rockers” to the House.

Phyllis Schlafly also made the point that, “There are two reasons why Rove and his rich donors don’t like grass-roots Republicans and tea partiers. The Establishment can’t order them how to vote, and the Establishment wants candidates to talk only about economic issues, never about social, moral, or national-security issues.”

Amen.

The good news for limited government constitutional conservatives is that the numbers show that the Republican establishment’s money advantage is eroding.

As Michael Patrick Leahy reported in an incisive article for Breitbart, that in the first half of the year the two major Tea Party oriented Super PACs – the Tea Party Patriots Citizens Fund super PAC and the TeaPartyExpress.org PAC raised more than Rove’s three PACs combined.

According to POLITICO, the three Rove affiliated Super PACs, including “American Crossroads, Crossroads GPS and the Conservative Victory Project jointly posted a $3.37 million fundraising haul …in the first half of 2013.”

In contrast, Leahy reported, “the two leading Tea Party political action committees–the Tea Party Patriots Citizens Fund super PAC and the TeaPartyExpress.org PAC–took in more than $4.1 million combined during the same period. The Tea Party Patriots Citizens Fund raised $2 million and the TeaPartyExpress.org PAC raised $2.1 million. Both groups also had plenty of cash on hand as of June 30, 2013, the end of the reporting period. The Tea Party Patriots Citizens Fund had over $600,000 in cash, and the TeaPartyExpress.org PAC had over $800,000 in cash.”

More importantly, while POLITICO reported that $1 million of the $3.3 million raised by Rove’s groups came “from a single corporate donor,” most of the donations to the Tea Party PACs came from unitemized donations of less than $200.

Indeed, Leahy noted that USA Today reports “more than $8 out of every $10 collected by the Tea Party Patriots Citizens Fund came in chunks of $200 or less, according to the group’s first fundraising report with the Federal Election Commission.”

And there’s more good news; Peoples and Beaumont also reported that while fundraising for establishment-minded groups such as Crossroads has slow, the tea party movement is using the vacuum to strengthen its influence while recruiting like-minded candidates.

“Establishment donors are unhappy. They spent a lot of money and didn’t do well,” said Sal Russo, the Tea Party Express political director.

“We’ve been busy,” he added, noting that his organization has interviewed more than 60 candidates this year across 17 states.

Why are Karl Rove and his establishment Republican patrons apparently faltering, while the allegedly unsophisticated amateurs of the Tea Party are building on their grassroots base to raise a national war chest?

It could be that Rove’s donors, even big government corporate welfare lovers that fund so many of the establishment GOP campaigns, did the numbers and decided investing in Rove sponsored candidates and campaign advertising had a very, very poor return.

Editor’s Note:

Jeff Flake ran for the Senate as a fiscal conservative and was “saved” by the support of limited government constitutional conservative oriented voters. We agree he has “flaked out’ since he got to the Senate, in pretty much the same way as Marco Rubio has disappointed conservatives, but he RAN as a fiscal and limited government constitutional conservative and was elected on his record as almost the lone voice against earmarks and the spending excess of the Republican Congress during the Bush years. His election was based on his advocacy of spending discipline and limited government, even if his subsequent record has been very disappointing, to say the least.

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