The National Republican Senatorial Committee has a stated policy of not getting involved in GOP primary races. But with control of the Senate possibly up for grabs next year, there is a temptation for some to promote certain candidates whose records shows a willingness to preserve the status quo in Washington. During an interview yesterday on C-SPAN, Sen. Jerry Moran (R-KS) came pretty close to endorsing two establishment candidates running for open Senate seats in South Dakota and West Virginia:
In an interview Sunday on C-SPAN’s “Newsmakers,” Sen. Jerry Moran (R-Kan.) said he had “great confidence and faith” in Rep. Shelley Moore Capito (R-W. Va.) and former South Dakota Gov. Mike Rounds, the Republican front-runners to capture seats held by a pair of retiring Democrats.
She seems to be clearly on her way to being nominated as the Republican candidate in West Virginia,” the campaign committee chairman said of Capito, calling her “a great House member.” Moran was nearly as effusive in praising Rounds, describing the former two-term governor as an “outstanding candidate.”
The NRSC has been criticized for supporting establishment candidates, including open seats in solidly Republican states, when there were more conservative challengers running. Perhaps the best example of this came just last year when the NRSC backed David Dewhurst over Ted Cruz in the open Senate seat in Texas.
While Dewhurst enjoyed the support of the NRSC and many others, Cruz received strong support from the grassroots and managed to pull off an upset win in the July 2012 runoff. Another example was the Republican primary in Kentucky back in 2010. The NRSC backed Trey Grayson over Rand Paul, the latter of whom won the primary with significant grassroots support.
Capito and Rounds are very much in the mold of Dewhurst and Grayson. They would prefer to play politics than pursue policies that shake things up.
On fiscal issues, Capito has been anything but a fiscal conservative. She has 60% lifetime score from FreedomWorks and 50% from the Club for Growth. She also proposed net-spending increase of $151.3 billion since the 107th Congress, according to data complied by the National Taxpayers Union.
While not as bad as Capito, Rounds served two unimpressive terms as Governor of South Dakota, from 2003 to 2011, during which he raised taxes and fees and didn’t really tackle spending during the recession.
United Liberty reached out to the Club for Growth, which supported both Cruz and Paul in their bids for office against establishment candidates, for reaction to Moran’s comments.
“The NRSC is welcome to support whoever they like,” wrote Barney Keller, Communications Director for the Club for Growth. “We will continue to support pro-growth champions like Ted Cruz, Marco Rubio, and Pat Toomey, regardless of what others do.”
When asked whether they would back primary challengers to Capito and Rounds, Keller explained that the Club for Growth “would happily support a viable conservative alternative to both, and we are closely watching both races.”
One thing is clear — if the NRSC had it’s way, Ted Cruz and Rand Paul, two of the most inspiring conservatives in Washington, wouldn’t by in the Senate today.