02.04.2013 1

The empire strikes back

NRD Editor’s Note: This column originally appeared at TheHill.com.

By Rick Manning — The Groundhog Day New York Times headline screamed, “Top Donors to Republicans Seek More Say in Senate Races.”

Now there’s a man bites dog.  Big money wants more power.  Who’da thunk it?

Steven J. Law, president of American Crossroads, the super-PAC creating the new project explained, “We don’t view ourselves as being in the incumbent protection business, but we want to pick the most conservative candidate who can win.”

American Crossroads, which spent nearly $400 million in the past election cycle without much effect, has given the group the Orwellian name of the Conservative Victory Project (CVP).

The purpose of the CVP is to ensure that Republicans nominate approved candidates like Denny Rehberg, Tommy Thompson and Rick Berg, rather than unapproved candidates like Christine O’Donnell, Richard Mourdock and Todd Akin.

In fact, its first target is Iowa congressman Steve King, who is contemplating a run for the now open Iowa Senate seat.  The Times reports that Law openly worries about King’s candidacy stating, “We’re concerned about Steve King’s Todd Akin problem,” Mr. Law said. “This is an example of candidate discipline and how it would play in a general election. All of the things he’s said are going to be hung around his neck.”

So, Stephen Law and the man behind Crossroads, Karl Rove, are riding to the rescue.

After all, it is not enough that the official National Republican Senatorial Committee will be spending its considerable time, money and talent to “recruit approved” candidates into each Senate race, and then turn its considerable inside-the-Beltway fundraising apparatus loose to see that the “correct” candidates are adequately funded.

No, now Republican primary voters are going to be subjected to an onslaught of ads helping them choose wisely, in an attempt to overwhelm grassroots candidate like the just-elected Ted Cruz from Texas, or Rand Paul, Marco Rubio, Ron Johnson or Mike Lee.

The very same D.C. political elites who delivered us the “electable” Mitt Romney will now be working their magic in a primary close to you.

And what happens when the party faithful don’t follow their sage wisdom?

You only have to look at Karl Rove’s tirade against Christine O’Donnell two and a half years ago when she beat the pre-approved Mike Castle.  Rove went on the air attacking the Republican nominee before they had even finished counting the votes.

Or, you can look at how these same elites spent a month burying Todd Akin in Missouri after his much-publicized rape comment in an attempt to get him to drop from the race so they could replace the voter’s choice with their own.

The sad truth is that if Law and Rove had their way, we would repeal all of those nasty primaries and just let the smoke-filled-room boys pick their buddies to run.  It is just too messy when real people make primary choices.

It is from that messy political system that the Ronald Reagan’s and Rand Paul’s emerged irking the elite because they owe them nothing.

And ultimately, that is a good thing for the country, and believe it or not, for the stodgy Republican Party as well.

Rick Manning (@rmanning957) is the vice president of public policy and communications for Americans for Limited Government.

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