War on Tea Party: GOP Establishment, Big Business Gearing Up for Battle

War on Tea Party: GOP Establishment, Big Business Gearing Up for Battle

On November 5, Defending Main Street, one of the most prominent Republican establishment groups formed with the intent of destroying the Tea Party, will meet with wealthy Wall Street donors to begin building up its war chest before the 2014 midterm elections. 

As the Associated Press notes, these Republicans believe the Tea Party has “overstayed their welcome in Washington and should be shown the door in next year’s congressional elections.” Now they are taking action to start raising the money they think will be needed to make that a reality. 

“Hopefully we’ll go into eight to 10 races and beat the snot out of them,” former Rep. Steve LaTourette (R-OH), who is running the group aiming “to raise $8 million to fend off tea party challenges,” recently told National Journal. “We’re going to be very aggressive and we’re going to get in their faces.”

Defending Main Street “plans to spend that money on center-right Republicans who face a triumvirate of deep-pocketed conservative groups–Heritage Action, Club for Growth and Freedom Works.”

LaTourette expressed his frustrations to the Associated Press, saying that “40, 42 House members have effectively denied the Republican Party the power of the majority” that it won in the 2010 election. He did not acknowledge that Republicans only won that majority on the strength of Tea Party voters who have now accused some of those elected officials of abandoning the intrests of those who elected them. 

Yet, groups like Defending Main Street will seek to rid the party of the candidates whom Tea Party voters enthusiastically support for not being co-opted by the Washington establishment once they were elected. 

In Michigan, as the Associated Press noted, Republican Reps. Justin Amash and Kerry Bentivolio will face primaries from candidates backed by the business community that has a lot of “pent-up frustration over GOP insurgents roughing up” their agenda. They are being challenged by establishment-backed candidates who would support House Republican leaders when they are at odds with the Tea Party. 

Breitbart News has reported on business interests that, largely because of immigration issues, are looking to destroy the Tea Party movement. The Chamber of Commerce, for instance, is also actively researching races in which it can make an impact and take out Tea Party candidates. 

According to National Journal, more “establishment Republicans are preparing to attack” conservatives during the upcoming election cycle. The outlet reports that “from Alabama to Alaska, the center-right, business-oriented wing of the Republican Party is gearing up for a series of skirmishes” against conservative and Tea Party candidates.

The Conservative Victory Project, “an arm of the Karl Rove’s Crossroads super PAC” that formed with the intention of declaring war on conservative and Tea Party candidates, will play a role. 

Jonathan Collegio, of the Rove-affiliated American Crossroads, said they will “make every effort to make sure they’re known to every group that spends money long before the primary” if candidates have “skeletons in their closet.” He said they did not want to nominate candidates like Christine O’Donnell in Delaware. 

These groups are also working together and reportedly discussing tactics such as “running attack ads against tea party candidates for Congress; overthrowing Ron Paul’s libertarian acolytes dominating the Iowa and Minnesota state parties; promoting open primaries over nominating conventions”; and “countering political juggernauts Heritage Action, the Club for Growth, and FreedomWorks.”

National Journal quotes establishment figures like John Feehery and Rob Jesmer, the former executive director of the National Republican Senatorial Committee who is now a part of Mark Zuckerberg’s FWD.us group that is spending millions to enact comprehensive immigration reform that the Congressional Budget Office determined would depress the wages of working class Americans. Feehery told National Journal, “This is a battle we have to fight. We can’t just lie down and let this happen.”

Groups like Defending Main Street have been courting big-money interests for donations. It remains to be seen whether they will try to fundraise off of small-dollar donations with tactics employed by the National Republican Senatorial Committee this week, which started harnessing the anger of the grassroots with Obamacare by selling “404 Error” stickers for $25 donations. Should groups like LaTourette’s employ similar fundraising tactics, they would effectively be using those small-dollar donations to harm candidates whom the “Main Street” conservative base supports.

For all the talk of ridding the GOP of the Tea Party, though, even the establishment Republicans who are organizing to try to make that happen concede it will be more than a tall order. 

National Journal reported that the old guard has been “stumped” because “efforts to roll the tea party typically provoke activists to roar back stronger than ever.”


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