Senate Conservatives Fund

Mitch McConnell and the “Republican brand”

TL;DR: Mitch McConnell feels threatened by principled conservatives and feels that they’re ruining the “Republican brand” by challenging him and other establishment Republicans. But really, the “Republican brand” is in shambles, and it’s time to re-define that brand to return to small-government principles.

Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) isn’t a happy camper these days. He’s locked in both a contentious primary and general election fight, losing rule battles against his Democratic counterpart, and has to contend with some members of his own party who are constantly willing to stand on principle, rather than the party line.

“The ‘Republican brand’ was severely damaged several years ago. That was largely due to dissatisfaction with President George W. Bush, an unpopular war, and corruption in Congress.”

The rise of the Tea Party movement and conservative organizations have created havoc for McConnell and Republican leadership in the chamber, who enjoyed mostly distant rumblings from the political right in the past. But over the last few months, there has been a tiff between the Kentucky Republican and the Senate Conservatives Fund (SCF) that has now boiled over into the public.

The Times They Are A Changin’

To quote the great Bob Dylan:

Come senators, congressmen

Please heed the call

Don’t stand in the doorway

Don’t block up the hall

For he that gets hurt

Will be he who has stalled

There’s a battle outside ragin’.

It’ll soon shake your windows

And rattle your walls

For the times they are a-changin’.

Last night’s primary election results came as a shock to many. Like Lisa Murkowski in Alaska, Sue Lowden in Nevada and Bob Bennett in Utah, Mike Castle was widely expected to win the Republican primary in Delaware. However, Delaware voters, like Alaska, Nevada and Utah voters, turned conventional wisdom on its head. Christine O’Donnell defeated RINO Mike Castle in a huge upset.

You would think that after seeing the primary results in state after state after state, the pundits, strategists and the GOP establishment would get the message. The Republican electorate wants CONSERVATIVE candidates. This message was sent in Florida, Utah, Nevada, Delaware, Colorado, Alaska, Kentucky, and potentially in New Hampshire, yet the NRSC still doesn’t get it. Karl Rove was on Sean Hannity’s show last night talking about the O’Donnell victory and how it diminished the Republican’s chances of winning the Senate in November. An unidentified, high-ranking GOP staffer is quoted in the Daily Caller bashing Jim DeMint and his Senate Conservatives Fund for derailing the Republicans attempt to win a majority.

Ted Cruz has gotten the attention of the Republican establishment, and he needs conservative reinforcements to #MakeDCListen

Ted Cruz and the Establishment

Establishment Republicans are out to get Texas Senator Ted Cruz because he’s forced “uncomfortable” votes during his short time in Washington. Writing for Time, Jay Newton-Small reports:

Now that primary season is almost over, some Establishment Republicans are looking for retribution

Ted Cruz has not made himself a popular man in Washington. The Texas Republican would argue that’s the point. But even for a Senator — an elected office with the backing of an entire state — ticking off powerful people can have consequences.

In his first two years in Washington, Cruz has managed to help force a government shutdown, undermine the GOP’s chances of taking over the Senate and force uncomfortable votes for his fellow Republicans — not to mention the verbal bombs he lobs on a regular basis, many aimed at his own party. His colleagues, aware of the threats they face from primary challengers, have mostly held their tongues and their fire so far. But Cruz has already done some damage without much trying.

Upon his election to the U.S. Senate in 2012, Cruz signed on to the National Republican Senatorial Committee as vice-chairman, an effort by the NRSC to reach out to conservative grassroots within the Republican Party. POLITICO covered the appointment in some details when it happened:

It’s a high-wire act for the political neophyte. As an NRSC deputy, he’ll have to balance the political pragmatism of a quintessential inside-the-Beltway institution without tarnishing his brand as an anti-establishment constitutional conservative.

OK Senate: Senate Conservatives Fund backs T.W. Shannon

T.W. Shannon

Rep. James Lankford (R-OK) may not be in for a cakewalk in his bid to serve the remaining two years of Sen. Tom Coburn’s (R-OK) term. His conservative primary opponent, former Oklahoma House Speaker T.W. Shannon, is gaining momentum.

Early polls indicated that Lankford was the odds on favorite to win the June 24 Republican Senate primary. An early February poll conducted by Harper Polling, for example, found Lankford with a 27-point lead over Shannon.

But the race looks like its shifting. Sarah Palin endorsed Shannon in mid-March and a poll from an outside group backing the insurgent conservative’s campaign showed that he had narrowed the gap to single digits.

Senate Conservatives Fund is hoping that it can keep the momentum in Shannon’s corner. The organization, known for challenging the status quo, announced on Thursday it is backing Shannon in the Republican primary.

“T.W. Shannon is a constitutional conservative who will fight to stop the massive spending and debt that are bankrupting our country,” said Matt Hoskins, executive director of Senate Conservatives Fund. “T.W. Shannon believes in the principles of freedom that make this country great and will stand up to the big spenders in both parties to balance the budget and stop Obamacare.”

Mitch McConnell escalates rhetoric against Tea Party, then tries to walk it back

Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) has made no secret of his contempt for the Tea Party movement and insurgent primary challengers looking to take down a handful of Republican senators.

There is a lot of bad blood between McConnell and Tea Party and conservative groups backing primary challengers to Republican senators.

McConnell, who seems poised to defeat a primary challenger of his own, has declared war on one group in particular, the Senate Conservatives Fund. He told the Washington Examiner late last year that this group, which endorsed his primary opponent, is “giving conservatism a bad name” and “ruining the [Republican] brand.”

One would think that McConnell would temper this sort of rhetoric as Republicans enter a crucial election year in which control of the chamber is on the line. But rather than appeal to a sizable chunk of the Republican base, the Minority Leader escalated his anti-Tea Party rhetoric in an interview with The New York Times.

“I think we are going to crush them everywhere,” McConnell said in an interview for a story that ran on Sunday. “I don’t think they are going to have a single nominee anywhere in the country.”

Karl Rove tries to connect Tea Party groups to Texas primary

Karl Rove

During a recent appearance on The Real Story with Gretchen Carlson, Karl Rove, a Fox News contributor and former advisor to President George W. Bush, tried to downplay the role some Tea Party groups could have in 2014 Republican primaries by connecting them to an insurgent campaigns that none of them ever backed.

Carlson asked Rove about the “dissention” between the Republican establishment and the Tea Party movement.

“I think you gotta distinguish between the Tea Party sentiment and the Tea Party groups. Look, groups like Senate Conservatives Fund and Heritage Action and FreedomWorks and Club for Growth don’t look like their going to have a particularly good year,” Rove told Carlson. “Our first test will be here in just over a week in Texas, where Senator John Cornyn is being opposed for reelection by Congressman Steve Stockman and Dwayne Stovall, both of whom are trying to capitalize on the Tea Party element.”

OK Senate: Conservative group courts Jim Bridenstine

An influential grassroots conservative group is courting Rep. Jim Bridenstine (R-OK) to run in the special election to replace Sen. Tom Coburn (R-OK), who announced that he will resign at the end of the year.

The Senate Conservatives Fund sent out an email blast to its supporters of Saturday in which the group praised Coburn, who is battling a recurrence of cancer, as a “tireless fighter against wasteful Washington spending,” noting that his resignation “is a big loss for Oklahoma and the country.”

“No senator has done more to research and expose our government’s gross abuse of American taxpayers,” wrote Matt Hoskins, executive director of the Senate Conservatives Fund. “[Coburn] is a true citizen legislator and we need more like him in Washington.”

After praise Coburn, who has been one of the most consistent fiscal conservatives in the Senate, Hoskins made it clear who the Senate Conservatives Fund would back in the race to replace him.

“It’s not clear yet which candidates will run for the seat,” he noted, “but we hope U.S. Representative Jim Bridenstine (R-OK) will consider it.”

SCF endorsed Bridenstine last year as a candidate for the U.S. House because of his outstanding record,” wrote Hoskins. “We wanted to protect him from the Republican establishment, which was upset with him for voting against John Boehner (R-OH) for Speaker, and to elevate his profile so he could run for the Senate someday.”

“How great would it be if he ran now?” he added.

Senate Conservatives Fund slams GOP leaders for “war on conservatives”

John Boehner and Mitch McConnell

Conservative groups criticized by House Speaker John Boehner (R-OH) last week aren’t backing down from their opposition to the budget deal. One of the groups has fired back at Republican congressional leaders for what it calls a “war on conservatives.”

The Senate Conservatives Fund sent out a fundraising email blast to supporters on Monday blasting Boehner and Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) for comments the two have made that are hostile to conservative activists.

“House Speaker John Boehner (R-OH) joined Senate Republican Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) last week in declaring war on conservatives,” said Matt Hoskins, executive director of the Senate Conservatives Fund, a PAC founded in 2008 by then-Sen. Jim DeMint (R-SC).

“John Boehner called conservatives ‘ridiculous’ for opposing the budget agreement that increases spending, raises taxes, and funds Obamacare while Mitch McConnell previously called us stupid ‘traitors’ who should be locked in a bar and ‘punched in the nose,’” he said, adding that Republican leaders don’t want to be held accountable for their actions.

NE Senate: Club for Growth endorses Ben Sasse

Ben Sasse

The Club for Growth, a pro-free market group that endorses and invests in GOP primaries, has endorsed Ben Sasse in the Republican primary for the open U.S. Senate seat in Nebraska.

“Ben Sasse is the rare candidate who can clearly and forcefully prosecute the case against Obamacare, not only because it’s an unconstitutional assault on our liberty, but also because he’s read every word of it,” said Club for Growth President Chris Chocola.

“We need more Senators like Ben Sasse who will stand on principle to challenge the big-government status quo in Washington and his unique skill-set makes him ideal for the job. Club members look forward to strongly supporting Ben Sasse for the U.S. Senate,” he added.

Sasse, 41, has served as president of Midland University since 2010 and has some past experience in politics and government, working as chief of staff to Rep. Jeff Fortenberry (R-NE) and as an appointed official in the Justice Department (2003-2005) and Health and Human Services (2007-2009) during the Bush Administration. He announced his Senate candidacy last month, calling himself the anti-Obamacare candidate.

“If [Obamacare] lives, America as we know it will die. If the idea of America is to live, it must be stopped,” Sasse said in his formal campaign announcement last month, according to the Omaha World-Herald. He raised $815,000 in the third quarter of the year, an impressive haul for a first-time candidate on his first disclosure.

KY Senate: Conservative group backs Mitch McConnell’s primary challenger

Matt Bevin (photo courtesy of Matt Bevin for Kentucky

Following a heated and divisive fight over ObamaCare and a deal brokered between Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-NV) and Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY), a prominent conservative organization has announced its endorsement of the Republican leader’s primary challenger.

The Senate Conservatives Fund, founded by former Sen. Jim DeMint (R-SC), announced on Friday that they would back Matt Bevin, a conservative candidate challenging McConnell for the Republican nomination in Kentucky.

“Matt Bevin is a true conservative who will fight to stop the massive spending, bailouts, and debt that are destroying our country. He is not afraid to stand up to the establishment and he will do what it takes to stop Obamacare,” said Matt Hoskins, executive director of the Senate Conservatives Fund, in a press statement.

“We know that winning this primary won’t be easy. Mitch McConnell has the support of the entire Washington establishment and he will do anything to hold on to power. But if people in Kentucky and all across the country rise up and demand something better, we’re confident Matt Bevin can win this race,” he added.

The Senate Conservatives Fund is framing the race between Bevin, who they call a “constitutional conservative,” and McConnell, labeled as a “Washington insider” who has “a liberal record and refuses to fight for conservative principles.”

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