But that is certainly one of the things that we aim to do better. Everything from the foundational issue research to opinion research to the application of that in how we communicate things on television — all of that needs to be stronger in 2014.
Geraghty: How has your donor base from 2012 reacted to this discussion? Had any of your donors been nudging you to go in this direction?
Law: I would say there’s mostly been enthusiasm. We talked about it a bit after the election. The Akin and Murdoch races were kind of a galvanizing moment for a lot of people. And I don’t want to single them out, because again, the problems we had with candidates are broader than that. But what they said was not just statewide but national and had a huge impact on the party as a whole. For some of our supporters, it symbolized the problems we had in selecting good candidates.
All we really aim to do here is see if we can contribute to selecting high-quality candidates — those who are conservatives and who also possess the necessary skills to be effective in a general election. Our donors warmed to that.
One of the concerns we have had is that, in some cases, groups have helped get somebody nominated in a primary and then they walked away in the general election. That happened, for example, in Nevada and Colorado in 2010, where we essentially shouldered most of the financial burden of supporting those candidates when the groups that had supported them had left the playing field. They left us with candidates who just didn’t have the skills necessary to be competitive.
Our donors understand that ultimately candidates are the ones who have to close the sale.
Geraghty: In West Virginia, Representative Shelley Moore Capito is interested in running in the open-seat Senate race, and the Club for Growth has already indicated that they find her unacceptable. Do you foresee getting involved in a primary there?
Law: I think it’s a little early to say. I do think Capito is a candidate who has proven she can win with West Virginia voters. It’s a state that is strongly available to us. It reminds me a bit of Kentucky, in that it is conservative, but not as conservative as some Southern states. You need a very skilled, capable, and experienced candidate to win there. I think it’s premature to say, but Shelley Moore Capito certainly has a lot of strengths.
Geraghty: There’s an open-seat race in Georgia, in a state that’s been pretty friendly to Republicans. There’s talk that Senator Frank Lautenberg won’t run in New Jersey. Are there people on your list who you want to recruit right now? Any state lawmakers we haven’t heard of who you see as having great potential?
Law: Not yet. Our first priorities are going to be open seats and those six seats held by Senate Democrats in states that Romney won by 10 percent or more. Our plan is to look at who is being talked about as a potential nominee and do an initial assessment of who might be competitive. Then we will have conversations with other groups that are interested in selecting candidates, specifically groups that are very conservative, and see if there is potential for consensus. If there isn’t consensus, we’ll see if there is somebody else out there we can find.
Geraghty: You’ve been a much-discussed figure since Sunday. Do you feel like any of the reactions or denunciations have been over the top or unfair, or has anyone particularly misconstrued what you’re doing?
Law: If people look at our track record of where we’ve invested our money and who we’ve supported, I think they’ll see our hearts are in the right place. I do think conservatives are justifiably sensitive that their candidates are the only ones who are singled out for underperforming, and there’s some merit to that view. But we’ve been pretty straightforward about our view that, even though we are very concerned about candidates who spectacularly self-destruct, we’re also concerned about the candidates who don’t seem to be able to amass the support, resources, and energy to run an effective general-election campaign.
—Jim Geraghty writes the Campaign Spot on NRO.