The National Republican Senatorial Committee had a rotten track record in 2012. But now they’re looking to get more deeply involved in picking candidates at the state level, hoping to foreclose Tea Party primary challengers like Richard Mourdock (R-IN). “There’s always going to be fundamental dislike of the national party coming to a local or a state race and saying, ‘This is who we want to pick,” Keli Carender of Tea Party Patriots told The Hill. The NRSC pulled out of several races this cycle, dooming several candidates to less-than-full financial support.
The battle for the Republican Party heart and soul right now is between the establishment and the Tea Party. The establishment still controls the money flow, which is why the National Republican Senatorial Committee’s decision to sit out particular races in 2012 hurt candidates so badly.
The question now is whether the establishment will continue to get involved in primary races – or whether Tea Party candidates can exploit the establishment infrastructure. In the tension between the Tea Party and the GOP establishment, the best candidates may emerge – folks like Sen. Marco Rubio (R-FL) and Sen.-Elect Ted Cruz (R-TX).