With Karl Rove under heavy fire after his group, the Conservative Victory Project, took to the pages of the New York Timesto attack the Tea Party, donors are beginning to turn on the Project. Politico reports Friday morning that the Project will “essentially preform oppo research and grade potential candidates on a variety of factors that might affect their ability to win a general election contest.” Some donors are overjoyed at the opportunity, including media honcho Stan Hubbard and Fred Malek of the American Action Network.
But others don’t trust Rove and the American Crossroads team to judge talent for office, says Politico: “the plan has sparked nearly unanimous opposition from anti-establishment deep-pocketed conservatives who have begun formulating their own big-money counter plans.” Those opponents could include other major super PACs who have long believed that Rove’s establishment bona fides prevent him from making truly conservative decisions about candidates.
And even some of Rove’s heretofore allies may be wary of his crystal ball strategy after the disastrous 2012 election cycle, which heralded not just the loss of Senate seats in Tea Party-influenced races like Indiana, but establishment strongholds like Wisconsin. American Crossroads had a mere 5.7% rate of return – just 5.7% of the money they spent on the 2012 election was actually spent on winning candidates.
Steven Law, president of American Crossroads, understands that he is now facing an uphill battle with conservative, especially given his group’s less-than-stellar 2012 performance. Law promises an investigation into “all of our activities last year, as well as external factors that contributed to last year’s deeply disappointing results.”
Matt Kibbe of FreedomWorks openly scoffed at the notion that Rove’s network would be able to pick winners and losers. “The guys who fund groups like Rove’s want to re-establish that they’re in charge, but they just don’t understand the inevitable decentralization and democratization of politics,” said Kibbe. Club for Growth president Chris Chocola seconded that motion: “When you think about a Republican primary, and you think about a principled conservative versus a moderate Republican – well, our model wins more often.”
Rove’s apparent apathy toward the Tea Party has obviously generated antipathy for his views. As Mark Levin has pointed out, Rove recently bragged about spending some $30 million on Senate Tea Party candidates and $25 million on Tea Party House candidates — but American Crossroads reportedly spent some $400 million in the 2012 election cycle, meaning that only about $1 out of every $8 was spent on Tea Party candidates.
Rove will undoubtedly continue to wield influence. But whether that influence triggers a Republican civil war or not is entirely up to Rove, and depends largely on his willingness to work with Tea Party groups rather than in opposition to them.
Ben Shapiro is Editor-At-Large of Breitbart News and author of the book “Bullies: How the Left’s Culture of Fear and Intimidation Silences America” (Threshold Editions, January 8, 2013).