Club for Growth president warns against GOP involvement in primaries


"It is hard to imagine a bigger mistake," he writes of national party involvement in primary races.

ADVERTISEMENT
Republicans in Washington have begun to float the prospect of earlier involvement in party primaries to help the best possible candidate get elected, to avoid the surprising failures of untested candidates that plagued the party this year and undermined their efforts to regain the majority in the Senate.

After both heavy involvement in 2010 and a hands-off approach in 2012 led to losses, most party leaders seem to agree neither approach is appropriate, and the National Republican Senatorial Committee's new structure — with Sen.-elect Ted Cruz as vice chairman of outreach — seems to indicate the committee will again play a role in Senate primary contests.

But Chocola argues in his op-ed that the national party has a poor track record from its involvement in primaries. He writes that many of the candidates backed by the party, in North Dakota, Montana, New Mexico, Virginia and Wisconsin, lost, and that others still, like Arlen Specter and Charlie Crist, ended up becoming or backing Democrats.

"Everyone wants to avoid the next Todd Akin or Christine O’Donnell, neither of whom received any support from the Club for Growth PAC. But the Republican establishment has a horrendous track record of accurately identifying which candidates are truly unelectable and which are not. Too often, party insiders mistakenly substitute the word 'unelectable' for the word 'conservative,' " he writes.

Instead, Chocola suggests the GOP should take a page from the Club for Growth's book and back "principled" candidates like Pat Toomey, Marco Rubio and Cruz, all of whom he says were "deemed unelectable" but are now important parts of the party's future.

The Club for Growth spent more than $20 million on the 2012 cycle, not including the millions spent by its super-PAC arm. But what Chocola doesn't write is that it had a losing record in Senate races this cycle, winning only 20 percent of the races it got involved in, and that it also backed one of those candidates that party leaders (rightfully) feared was unelectable: Richard Mourdock, in Indiana.