Tea Party groups and big-business interests will ratchet up the civil war for the heart and soul of the Republican Party during the 2014 elections.
Fed up with conservatives who do not want comprehensive immigration reform and more government expansion, business groups like the Chamber of Commerce will seek to oust conservative lawmakers in Congress.
“We are going to get engaged,” Scott Reed, a senior political strategist for the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, told Bloomberg News. “The need is now more than ever to elect people who understand the free market and not silliness.”
The chamber reportedly “spent $35.7 million on federal elections in 2012,” and they are researching which races they can impact in 2014. Finding candidates who support comprehensive immigration reform seems to be a top priority. Other donors from the business community and groups like the Business Roundtable will also join the Chamber of Commerce in this effort.
They will meet fierce resistance, though, from conservative groups who are already planning to challenge incumbents like Sens. Lindsey Graham (R-SC), Mitch McConnell (R-KY), Thad Cochran (R-MS), and Lamar Alexander (R-TN).
The Senate Conservatives Fund and the Club for Growth announced that they would support Chris McDaniel, a conservative Republican state senator, in his bid to oust Cochran, who voted to re-open the government and raise the debt ceiling temporarily.
McDaniel announced his candidacy on Thursday, and the Senate Conservatives Fund emphasized that he is “not part of the Washington establishment and he has the courage to stand up to the big spenders in both parties.” Both groups have also endorsed Tea Party candidate Matt Bevin, who is challenging McConnell.
In Tennessee, conservatives are mounting a challenge to Alexander, with many supporting Joe Carr.
Bloomberg also profiled Breitbart’s Michael Patrick Leahy, who is “helping to organize volunteers to knock on doors” to “protest Alexander’s support for ending the Washington impasse by backing Carr.”
“Whoever wins the primary in Tennessee is going to sail to victory,” Leahy, one of the original members of the Tea Party movement, told Bloomberg News. “Democrats are anemic here.”
But those from the business community are not happy with Tea Partiers for mounting challenges to establishment senators like Cochran.
“The strategy of primarying people like Thad Cochran is more of the same and it means more Senate minorities in the future,” David French, “the top lobbyist in Washington for the National Retail Federation,” told Bloomberg News. “I question the judgment there.”
French then blasted “incumbent Republicans” who are conservatives who he felt were “on the wrong side of some of these issues.” French said there are “definitely some incumbent Republicans” that are conservatives that “we’re not going to support again.”
Tennessee, South Carolina, and Kentucky are three states former Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin, whom former South Carolina Senator and Heritage Foundation President said had the most influence in Republican primaries, recently mentioned in a Facebook note about “important House and Senate races”:
Friends, do not be discouraged by the shenanigans of D.C.’s permanent political class today. Be energized. We’re going to shake things up in 2014. Rest well tonight, for soon we must focus on important House and Senate races. Let’s start with Kentucky–which happens to be awfully close to South Carolina, Tennessee, and Mississippi–from sea to shining sea we will not give up. We’ve only just begun to fight.