On Christmas Day, the Wall Street Journal reported that the U.S. Chamber of Commerce says it plans to spend at least $50 million to “support establishment, business-friendly candidates in primaries and the general election, with an aim of trying to win a Republican Senate majority.”
“Our No. 1 focus is to make sure, when it comes to the Senate, that we have no loser candidates,” said U.S. Chamber of Commerce top political strategist Scott Reed. “That will be our mantra: No fools on our ticket.”
GOP establishment officials hope to elide Tea Party challenges by shrinking the nomination process down to a tight four-month window replete with penalties for states that shirk the rules.
The WSJ reported that Republican leaders “hope a less restive Republican caucus will allow the House to pass a farm bill and push ahead on at least incremental overhauls of the immigration system.”
The Chamber’s comments are just the latest salvo in a widening battle between the conservative Tea Party grassroots and the establishment wing of the Republican Party. Increasingly, the Tea Party’s growing power and influence has unmoored Republican politicians from their traditional alliance with Wall Street in favor of grassroots conservative activists.
The shift comes as grassroots activists have re-framed the GOP’s old “pro-business” stance into a “pro-free markets” positioning that eschews corporate welfare and taxpayer-funded crony capitalist giveaways to industries that make major political contributions and reap big government contracts paid for by voters.
The Journal says that joining the Chamber of Commerce will be groups like Karl Rove’s American Crossroads, who “are preparing an aggressive effort to groom and support more centrist Republican candidates.”