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Election-driven news and views . . . by Jim Geraghty.

To Oppose McConnell, Find an Alternative First



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The high-profile grumbling about Senate minority leader Mitch McConnell — seen in a new ad campaign from ForAmerica, a non-profit 501(c)4 run by Brent Bozell — is a lot like the much-discussed, little-impact uprising against John Boehner as speaker of the House. In both cases, the odds of replacing the current Republican leadership would be exponentially more likely if there were a named alternative.

Here’s the announcement of the web advertising against McConnell:

ForAmerica Chairman L. Brent Bozell III today announced the 3 million strong social media organization is launching the first ad of the 2014 election cycle against Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell for his capitulation to President Obama and Vice President Joe Biden in fiscal cliff negotiations. The ad will run in the Senator’s home state of Kentucky and in Washington, DC on websites including the Drudge Report, FoxNews.com, and the Daily Caller.

“Conservatives have had it with the Republican Party. The party that was once for freedom and limited government no longer exists. We now have two tax and spend parties in Washington,” said Bozell. “Senator McConnell often talks a tough game and sells himself as a conservative, but his actions speak louder than his words. His role as President Obama’s bag man in the latest fiscal cliff disaster clearly demonstrates that Senator McConnell is more interested in the art of the bad deal rather than standing up and fighting for conservative principles. It is time for conservatives to stand up to politicians in both parties who talk conservative but govern as liberals,” Bozell concluded.

The group wants to sign a petition “to let McConnell and congressional Republicans know conservatives are watching and will hold accountable those who go against the principles they claim to support.”

Okay, hold them accountable how?

Support a primary challenger? Okay, but right now there are no challengers stepping forward, and even if a credible one does, that primary isn’t until May 2014. A lot can change, but in December, only 35 percent of likely Kentucky GOP primary voters said they preferred “someone more conservative” to McConnell.

Conservatives can prefer another senator to be minority leader, but they would need A) a candidate and B) a majority of the Republicans in the Senate to agree a leadership change is needed. In fact, without A, B is moot.

Do you like McConnell? Well, compared to what other Senate Republican? (And has there ever been a less conservative thought than, ‘Well, anyone must be better’?”)

The departure of Jim DeMint with four more years left in his term suggested that conservative senators foresaw a steep uphill climb for at least the next two years and probably the next four. Anyone who wants to see McConnell replaced needs to find a replacement, and that replacement can’t be contemplating a presidential bid simultaneously (see Bob Dole in 1996).

Recent cycles brought a group of senators who might be called the Tea Party caucus — a group of relatively young, principled conservatives with bright futures: Marco Rubio of Florida, Mike Lee of Utah, Rand Paul of Kentucky, Pat Toomey of Pennsylvania, Jeff Flake of Arizona, Ted Cruz of Texas. But for now, none of those senators have publicly expressed interest in the herding-cats-like role of leading the caucus.

UPDATE: By the way, by the measurement of the ForAmerica.org “Freedom Meter,” Mitch McConnell scores an average of 95 percent out of a possible 100.

ANOTHER UPDATE: David Bozell, executive director of ForAmerica, sends along a statement to NRO:

The Fiscal Cliff vote will soon be integrated into the Freedom Meter but, as everyone knows, it only takes a few bad test scores to screw up a decent grade. And the deal Senator McConnell cut with liberals is certainly a doozy. Going forward, we hope that Senator McConnell stops cutting bad deals with liberal Democrats behind closed doors and stands up for fiscal discipline and economic growth; if he does so then we will enthusiastically support him.


Tags: Mitch McConnell


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