New super PAC formed to help influence Republican primaries
Former Bush adviser Karl Rove also advising new group
The organizers of American Crossroads have formed a new super PAC called the "Conservative Victory Project," aiming to make sure Republican congressional primary victors can also win the general election.
As he does with other Crossroads groups, former Bush political adviser Karl Rove will advise this new organization, which will be led by Steven Law, the president of both American Crossroads and its advocacy sister Crossroads GPS.
The group wants to institutionalize the rule of former conservative activist William F. Buckley and to nominate "the most conservative candidate in the primary who can win the general election," according to Victory Project spokesman Jonathan Collegio.
"Our party has lost at least six Senate races in the last two election cycles not because of conservative ideas but because of undisciplined candidates and subpar campaigns," Collegio told CNN.
"We want to elect conservative candidates to the House and Senate," he added. "But we have to win general elections."
There was widespread dismay from some within the party after losses in the general election in 2010 by Sharron Angle in Nevada and last year by Todd Akin in Missouri and Richard Mourdock in Indiana - all of whom were initially favored and strongly supported by tea party activists. They won primaries against candidates who experts thought had a better chance of capturing the general election. Their losses were at least partly blamed on comments they made that seemed out of the mainstream.
The formation of the Victory Project is being met with scorn from some conservative activists.
Upon news of the organization's formation, Tea Party Patriots national coordinator Jenny Beth Martin tweeted: "TPPatriots want to save USA. Karl Rove wants to line pockets-Don't Tread on Us! Tea Party bites back-never gives up!"
"The Conservative Defeat Project is yet another example of the Republican establishment's hostility towards its conservative base," Matt Hoskins, executive director of the Senate Conservatives Fund group, said in a statement Sunday. "Rather than listening to the grassroots and working to advance their principles, the establishment has chosen to declare war on its party's most loyal supporters."
SCF, which works to push conservative candidates, backed Ted Cruz, Deb Fischer and Jeff flake in their successful Senate races last year.
The Crossroads groups did not have a great success rate, themselves, in 2012, as most of their favored Senate candidates ended up losing.
Some conservatives point out that not only did Akin and Mourdock lose last year but so did more mainstream candidates such as Rep. Denny Rehberg of Montana, Rep. Rick Berg of North Dakota and former Rep. Heather Wilson of New Mexico.
Project organizers have already started reaching out to their financial backers, some of whom were uneasy about getting involved in intraparty fights. That is why this new group was formed separately.
"Some donors are concerned about primaries where many are concerned exclusively about the general election," Collegio said.
The group, which will disclose its donors, will make its decisions on whom to back based on research about candidates' positions, their fundraising power and their ability to organize and run an effective campaign. It will not recruit candidates nor coordinate with party leaders.
One race it could get involved is in West Virginia, where Rep. Shelley Moore Capito had already announced her decision to run for the Senate even before incumbent Sen. Jay Rockefeller announced he was going to retire. Capito, who is in her 7th term, is viewed as a formidable candidate with a strong fundraising base.
However several conservative groups, including the Senate Conservatives Fund, already have come out against her, calling her record "liberal" and saying she supported too much government spending.
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