Chamber of Commerce and Karl Rove join to crush 2014 tea party candidates

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The U.S. Chamber of Commerce will spend a minimum of $50 million to “support establishment, business-friendly candidates in primaries and the general election, with an aim of trying to win a Republican Senate majority,” the organization announced this week.

Tea party candidates need not apply.

“Our No. 1 focus is to make sure, when it comes to the Senate, that we have no loser candidates,” said U.S. Chamber of Commerce political strategist Scott Reed, according to Breitbart News. “That will be our mantra: No fools on our ticket.”

The move would weed out candidates like Christine O’Donnell, Sharon Angle and Todd Akin, all of whom lost their respective Senate bids by a wide margin. But it also may have eliminated candidates like U.S. Sens. Ted Cruz of Texas, Mike Lee of Utah and Rand Paul of Kentucky.

Breitbart reported:

[G]rassroots activists have re-framed the GOP’s old “pro-business” stance into a “pro-free markets” positioning that eschews corporate welfare and taxpayer-funded crony capitalist giveaways to industries that make major political contributions and reap big government contracts paid for by voters.

The Journal says that joining the Chamber of Commerce will be groups like Karl Rove’s American Crossroads, who “are preparing an aggressive effort to groom and support more centrist Republican candidates.”

Meanwhile, Rove’s group, American Crossroads, will be operating more from the shadows this time. Both Crossroads and Conservative Victory Project, an affiliate created to elect centrist candidates, have opted to keep their names out of Kentucky’s Senate primary between Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., and tea party challenger Matt Bevin.

In a separate article, Breitbart reported:

Instead, a group called “Kentuckians for Strong Leadership” is curiously backing McConnell while getting most of its cash from Crossroads donors. It is “legally separate from Crossroads;” but Stephen Law, the president of Crossroads, sits on its board, and the two groups share a treasurer.

The move was prompted in part by the less-than-savory image Crossroads has developed with the GOP’s conservative base.

Grassroots members said they were “unwilling to let Mr. Rove and his colleagues decide which Senate candidates get the most support,” a Republican told The New York Times, according to Breitbart. “You don’t want someone playing God above you saying, ‘You don’t need any more money in your race. You can win by a few less points.’”

Crossroads’ image was also tarnished by its lack of success in 2012. It had nothing to show in the win column after it and its affiliates spent nearly $450 million.

I remind the Roves of the world that in 1980, Ronald Reagan was the conservative, grassroots candidate facing establishment, centrist George H.W. Bush. Who came out ahead in that battle?

But I would also caution the tea party to do a better job vetting its candidates, with a keen eye on the general election. It’s almost impossible to recover from fiascos like Akin.

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