by Mitch Kokai
Senior Political Analyst, John Locke Foundation
The latest Bloomberg Businessweek devotes a couple of pages to the concerns some conservatives are raising about Karl Rove‘s Conservative Victory Project, “which will back Republican candidates Rove has vetted and believes can win.”
Party activists accuse Rove of disregarding voters and installing himself as kingmaker. “I think Rove is trying to defend himself and deflect from his failure,” says David Bossie, president of Citizens United, the conservative advocacy group best known as the plaintiff in the Supreme Court case that sanctioned the kind of unlimited campaign spending Rove specializes in. “I hear from donors. I hear from grass-roots people across the country who are offended by the very fact that Karl Rove thinks he knows best.”
Rove declined an interview request. Jonathan Collegio, a spokesman for the Conservative Victory Project and American Crossroads, says, “We have made absolutely clear we are not trying to pick a fight with the Tea Party. We are simply trying to pick the best candidates available.”
Jenny Beth Martin, co-founder of Tea Party Patriots, one of the movement’s largest groups with about 1,000 chapters nationwide, says Rove’s new organization is “the antithesis of what our movement stands for. We want local control. We want to choose our own nominees. We don’t want consultants from Washington, D.C., coming in and telling us who they deem the most winnable candidates.”
Rove seems intent on pursuing his strategy, even if it means going after elected Republicans. In February, the Conservative Victory Project indicated it would oppose U.S. Representative Steve King of Iowa should the Republican, who is a favorite of Tea Party activists, run for the Senate seat Democratic incumbent Tom Harkin is giving up in 2014. That prompted a rebuke from Iowa Governor Terry Branstad, also a Republican, who said Rove should leave the primary to Iowans.