WASHINGTON, November 5, 2013 — Recently, the National Republican Senatorial Committee (NRSC) made the decision not to work with Jamestown Associates, a Republican advertising firm, due to its work with an organization whose sole purpose is attacking incumbent Senate Republicans. While some are condemning this move, the NRSC is doing little more than discouraging friendly fire.
The Senate Conservatives Fund (SCF) is a political action committee largely dedicated to ousting incumbent Republican senators and encouraging other Republicans to primary them. They ignore races in which Republicans need help defeating Democrats. For example, they expended no resources in the recent New Jersey special election, in which the Republican candidate lost.
SCF has already spent hundreds of thousands of dollars to unseat Republican Senators Mitch McConnell (who has a 90% lifetime American Conservative Union conservative rating and 80% Heritage Action conservative rating) and John Cornyn (who has a 93% ACU lifetime rating and 86% HA rating), among others. SCF founder Jim Demint formerly praised Senator Jeff Flake for his conservatism. Although recently, SCF started running ads against Flake, while ignoring Democrats up for reelection in 2014.
The American political world is one in which incumbents have strong advantages in elections. Accordingly, the NRSC supports incumbents, as their goal is to achieve and maintain a Republican Senate majority. SCF’s goal runs entirely contrary to the NRSC’s.
One NRSC official, Brad Dayspring, denounced SCF’s style of attacking Republicans in order to raise money and hurt sitting conservatives, following the school of thought that attacking Democrats – with whom conservatives disagree on much more – is a wiser use of resources. “We’re not going to do business with people who profit off of attacking Republicans. Purity for profit is a disease that threatens the Republican Party.” Dayspring’s view originates from a conservative icon.
President Ronald Reagan once said “My 80-percent friend is not my 20-percent enemy.” While Dayspring and the NRSC invoke Reagan’s 80/20 rule, SCF often chooses to go the opposite way, demonizing Republicans who infrequently disagree with SCF, while ignoring Democrats who disagree with conservatives on most issues.
The NRSC, on the other hand, focuses its fire on Democrats, who disagree on a majority of issues.
In similar contrast to SCF’s beliefs, Reagan also once said “Die-hard conservatives thought that if I couldn’t get everything I asked for, I should jump off the cliff with the flag flying – go down in flames. If I can get 70 or 80 percent of what it is I’m trying to get, I’ll take that and then continue to try to get the rest in the future.”
As Ford O’Connell points out in his recent USA Today article, such talk would be considered “heresy” by some on the right today.
SCF uses strict purity tests to determine who is or is not a “true conservative,” although it is unclear why they should be the authority in the matter, seeing as they spend all their time attacking Republicans. While they work on purging the party of leaders who they decide are not conservative enough, they give Democrats more fire with which to attack Republicans.
The NRSC’s move is little more than basic logic. When someone’s goal is to undo your work, why would you want to work with them? SCF focuses its energy on attacking conservatives, while the NRSC focuses on electing conservatives. If the NRSC was to condone SCF, it would be much like walking into friendly fire with an outstretched arm – you’ll likely die before you ever get to shake the hand of the guy shooting at you, although he is supposed to be on your side.
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