Establishment GOP will win* on Election Day, and it’s up to grassroots conservatives to hold them accountable

Senate Republican Leadership

All most signs point to Republicans taking the majority in the U.S. Senate tomorrow and sending Harry Reid and the Democrats “into the wilderness” for at least two years. For conservatives, tomorrow’s 74.4%-sure Republican victory will prove to be a double-edged sword.

This is a hard pill to swallow: Conservatives lost more than a few key primary battles against Establishment-back Republicans this cycle. It’s important to admit it — because, from there, conservatives can do two things:

  1. Re-group and develop a more effective strategy for Republican Senate primaries in 2016.
  2. Hold the new* Republican majority in the Senate accountable.
POLITICO with the not-at-all-sugarcoated primary post-mortem:
With growing confidence as Election Day approaches, Republican leaders are preparing to argue that broad GOP gains in the House and Senate would represent a top-to-bottom validation of their party’s mainline wing. Having taken a newly heavy-handed approach to the primary season this year, the top strategists of the Republican coalition say capturing the majority would set a powerful precedent for similar actions in the future — not just in Senate and congressional races, but in the presidential primary season as well.
National Republicans managed this year to snuff out every bomb-throwing insurgent who tried to wrest a Senate nod away from one of their favored candidates. They spent millions against baggage-laden activists such as Matt Bevin, the Louisville investor who mounted a ham-fisted challenge to Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, and Mississippi state Sen. Chris McDaniel, the conservative upstart who imperiled a safe seat by nearly ousting longtime Sen. Thad Cochran.
Conservatives can learn from these losses heading into 2016, but it appears as though they’re going to be instrumental in the Republican takeover of the Senate first.
Breitbart notes:

Several of these tossup states went through bitter Republican primaries in which the establishment candidate defeated the Tea Party-endorsed candidate. While support for the establishment victors by the vanquished Tea Party primary opponents is a mixed bag, recent endorsements by some former intra-party foes, combined with pragmatic decision making in the minds of Tea Party voters around the country, may bring enough reluctant voters to the polls for Republican candidates to ease the party into a Senate majority.

In Kansas on Thursday, Tea Party-backed Dr. Milton Wolf endorsed incumbent Senator Pat Roberts (R-KS), albeit reluctantly, in his tight race with Democrat-backed “Independent” candidate Greg Orman. Wolf’s endorsement came one day after the Tea Party Patriots Citizens Fund, which had backed Wolf in the primary, endorsed Roberts.

Earlier this month in Alaska, both Tea Party-endorsed Joe Miller and Tea Party Express publicly supported Republican primary winner Dan Sullivan in his efforts to unseat incumbent Senator Mike Begich (D-AK). In Kentucky, Tea Party-endorsed Matt Bevin is “flirting with endorsing” incumbent Senator Mitch McConnell (R-KY), according to the Lexington Herald Leader. In North Carolina, Rand Paul, who endorsed Dr. Greg Brannon in the primary, has endorsed and campaigned for primary victor Thom Tillis in the general election race with incumbent Senator Kay Hagan (D-NC).

In the same write-up, conservative stalwart Richard Viguerie asserts, ”When the GOP has a big victory this coming Tuesday night, they will owe a big debt to the Tea Party conservatives.”

This is true.

Should Republicans take the Senate, it will become much more important for conservative constituents to put pressure on the new Republican majority.

Here’s a fun fact: When Republicans last held the Senate in 2006, Twitter had only been around for a few months. Since then, it’s become a tremendous tool for organizing opposition (or support) for candidates, causes, and specific legislation. Tweeting at Mitch McConnell and other Republican leaders was impossible. Social media activism (the author uses “activism” lightly here) was still in its infancy.

(McConnell’s office didn’t get a Twitter account until July 2011; Jon Kyl, March 2009; John Cornyn, February 2008.)

With the 24-hour news cycle and the widespread use of social media, it’s now incredibly easy to mount a public campaign in support or opposition of candidates, causes, and specific legislation. And conservatives must be ready and willing to organize against the Republican majority to stop bad legislation.

Tomorrow’s Republican victory is a step in the right direction for conservatives, but they must remain vigilant. As the saying goes, “Sometimes politicians must feel the heat before they see the light.”

* - UL isn’t quite counting Republican chickens yet. The Republican Party has an unmatched ability to snatch defeat from the jaws of victory.


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