Roll Call: Latest News on Capitol Hill, Congress, Politics and Elections
February 9, 2016

NRSC: We’ll Spend in Primaries if Necessary

Jerry Moran of Kansas is the chairman of the NRSC. (Chris Maddaloni/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

Senate Republicans are now open to spending money to help a preferred candidate through a competitive primary — a change from last cycle when the committee was under different leadership.

While briefing reporters Tuesday morning on the GOP’s path to winning control of the Senate, Rob Collins, executive director of the National Republican Senatorial Committee, said the NRSC will “do what we think gets us to a majority.”

“Would we spend money in primaries? Yes, if that’s the right move at the right time,” Collins said. “There’s no rules — I treat every state differently. The path to getting a general election candidate who can win is the only thing we care about.”

In a cycle where the GOP hopes to win back the Senate majority, the concern is that a flawed candidate could be nominated in an otherwise top pickup opportunity or a preferred candidate could be damaged for the general.

Both scenarios happened in the past two election cycles, when the NRSC opted not to spend much or anything on TV advertising during nomination battles. The decision to be mostly hands-off was a result of divisions within the party and the fear of backlash among the grass roots for appearing to strong-arm the process.

But now, conservative outside groups are already on the air against Republican incumbents and have pledged to play in primaries in states where the GOP is on offense.

That includes ads against Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell in Kentucky, where the NRSC is unlikely to have to spend on the well-funded incumbent’s behalf, and Louisiana, where GOP Rep. Bill Cassidy is viewed by the NRSC as a strong candidate but at least one conservative group is rallying behind someone else.

“All options are on the table in every race,” Collins said. “Let me be clear about that — I’m not saying any one state. But this team didn’t get built, and everyone didn’t give up everything they gave up, to kind of win. We’re here to win.”

Lacking a similar party division, the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee prides itself in rallying behind a single candidate and avoiding the kind of nasty primary fights that have hindered Republicans in recent years. Other than in Hawaii, a safe Democratic state, the party doesn’t have a single competitive primary.

  • umreb78

    A Conservative’s take on this. The NRSC now announces it will spend money to defeat
    Conservative Republicans in primaries instead of letting the people pick
    the best Republican nominee and then spend their money to help defeat
    the Democrats. I’ve been telling you for months that our real enemy is
    NOT the Democrat Party but the RINO controlled Republican Party. Guess
    they don’t think much of Ronald Reagan’s philosophy about not attacking
    their own arty…but who the hell should that surprise?. The arrogant,
    entitled egotists running the national GOP have far more in
    common with Barack Obama than with Ronald Reagan. No matter…If they
    want a war, then we Constitutional Conservatives need to take this
    opportunity to make their ilk EXTINCT from the American political scene.
    One way or another, either the TEA Party or the establishment GOP goes
    the way of the dinosaur in November of 2014. In the big picture, this is
    probably a good thing for real Conservatives. Another round of shadow
    boxing will accomplish little and with every passing year of leftist
    government, the survival chances of Conservatism diminishes greatly. We
    simply do not have the time to take over a few seats in the Congress at a
    time. We need to vanquish every RINO remaining at the first cycle in
    which they each must face the voters.

  • TxPharm

    Tea Partiers dont get it that 40% of the electorate are independent voters. Neither party can win a national election without winning over independent voters.
    GOP has made a tiny little tent, and it will fade into obscurity unless it adapts more moderate policies on abortion and makes inroads with Hispanics.
    You are the reason Harry Reid is senate majority leader. Republicans don’t need any more Sharron Angles or Christine ODonnells or Todd Akins.That experiment failed.
    Tea party may seem like a winner in your red state, but nominating Ted Cruz will hand the white house to democrats. The LAST opportunity for repeal of Obamacare and IPAB is 2017.
    As it is, I already credit the Tea Party and especially the incredibly stupid comments made by Todd Akin, Rush Limbaugh, et al, for handing Obama the white house last year and allowing this junker bill to be implemented.
    Nominate a Republican who can WIN.

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