After immense pressure from the conservative movement, the National Republican Senatorial Committee (NRSC) has walked back its efforts to attack the Senate Conservatives Fund (SCF).
At a press conference on Tuesday, NRSC executive director Rob Collins complimented SCF’s work against Democrats like Sen. Mark Pryor (D-AR) and said that he believes the organization is in fact motivated to get Republicans the majority in the U.S. Senate, albeit by different “tactics” than the NRSC. Collins’ remarks are a marked reversal for the group in just a few days of how the NRSC has treated the conservative group largely responsible for helping getting Sens. Rand Paul (R-KY), Marco Rubio (R-FL), Ted Cruz (R-TX), Mike Lee (R-UT), and other conservatives electe.
“The stuff they were doing on Mark Pryor was good stuff,” Collins said of SCF when asked about the group at the press conference. When pressed further by a reporter, he explained why NRSC went after the group. “If you started writing for the Wall Street Journal, you could do that,” Collins said to the reporter. “But your current employer would probably say to stop asking for your paycheck.”
“You talk to anyone downtown, they’ll say ‘if I decide to work for company A, I therefore can’t work for company B, because we have competing legislative goals in this town.’ So just to give you an idea, you know, the Democrats, their view is you get set pricing on everything,” he continued. “If you’re in an A race you get the A price, B race you get the B price, and C race you get the C price. It’s way more structured and rule-driven than the way we do it. “
We have a very specific rule: We are built to bring back incumbents and that’s a very important rule and everyone knows that rule,” Collins stated.
Collins added that “in the short term, I don’t see this as a huge conflict between us and outside groups. You know, I think people inartfully say it’s ‘us versus the Tea Party.’ That’s not right. We all agree on the strategy, which is a Republican Senate that replaces Obamacare, that fixes our economy, that demands more muscular defense and more muscular national security posture. We disagree on tactics right now.”
“My mom is Tea Party,” he added.
Collins did say, however, that with regard to several primaries, “all options are on the table” and that the NRSC may spend money in select primaries to help more establishment-minded candidates. That is not a point of contention, however; the NRSC is perfectly within its rights as an organization to do so. Conservatives have been incensed that the NRSC would use its political position to try to cut off business to a private firm for political disagreements.
Nonetheless, Collins’ statement on Tuesday shows the NRSC is trying to make nice with conservatives following an onslaught of attacks after it tried to cut off business to political vendor Jamestown Associates for working with SCF. The move came after SCF endorsed Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell’s primary challenger Matt Bevin.
Just a few short days ago, McConnell’s recently departed chief of staff Josh Holmes–who now works for the NRSC–told the New York Times: “S.C.F. has been wandering around the country destroying the Republican Party like a drunk who tears up every bar they walk into. The difference this cycle is that they strolled into Mitch McConnell’s bar and he doesn’t throw you out, he locks the door.”
NRSC communications director Brad Dayspring had referred to the group as a “disease” within the GOP. “We’re not going to do business with people who profit off of attacking Republicans,” Dayspring told the Times. “Purity for profit is a disease that threatens the Republican Party.”
In a phone interview on Monday, Matt Bevin, McConnell’s challenger in the Kentucky GOP primary, said that he thinks McConnell and his team should apologize for these attacks. “I do think he owes it to Kentuckians and to Americans and to the dignity of the office that he holds to denounce this type of thuggish behavior,” Bevin said. “I just think he does. It would be good for America if he did that.”
The NRSC’s attacks incensed Tea Partiers; Tea Party Express chairwoman Amy Kremer told Breitbart News in a Monday phone interview that she views the NRSC’s actions as “thug tactics.”
“The NRSC has never really been on our side,” Kremer said. “I mean, to go after somebody that’s an independent business, I mean that’s going after free market principles. That’s just wrong. That’s what we’re all supposed to be fighting for.”
“It shows how scared they are,” she said. “Look, we are more of a threat to the Republican Party than we are to the Democratic Party–we’re a threat to their power structure. I think that these actions show just that. It’s like thug tactics.”
Madison Project political director Drew Ryun also told Breitbart News that it appears McConnell and the NRSC engaged in “childish attacks” in this instance and that they are “nervous” about McConnell potentially losing his re-election bid during the Kentucky primary next May. “Instead of defending his big-spending record McConnell is using his K Street Republican cronies to wage war against the conservative movement,” Ryun said in an email.
“These D.C Establishment groups have become extremely vocal this election because they earn their livelihood from selling access to McConnell for special interests. For them the stakes are high because in their minds, McConnell is too big to fail,” he explained. “And when guys like Josh Holmes say say that groups like SCF are, ‘destroying the Republican Party,’ does that mean helping elect Mike Lee, Ted Cruz, Marco Rubio and Rand Paul is ‘destroying the Republican Party?'”
Ryun’s group has endorsed Bevin, while Kremer’s group has not endorsed any candidate in the Kentucky race at this time.