TWO, THREE, MANY REPUBLICAN PARTIES
I'm not sure why so many people are taking Reid Wilson's new Hotline column, titled "Why Democrats Will Keep The House," so seriously. The American Spectator's Quin Hillyer says, somewhat despairingly,
What it boils down to is that all three major party committees on the Republican side have substantially underperformed. They haven't raised enough money. They have spent way too much money. They have wasted money picking fights in primaries rather than saving it for the general election. And of course they have paid for the care, feeding, preening and pampering of Michael Steele.
But so what? I'd love it if Wilson and Hillyer were right and the GOP weren't about to take over the House and possibly the Senate. I'd love it if the failures of the three major GOP party committees were about to be the deciding factor.
But they aren't, are they? As Zandar and Raw Story have noted, Steele et al. may be largely irrelevant, supplanted by
the so-called "shadow RNC" formed by former Bush political adviser Karl Rove and former RNC Chairman Ed Gillespie, which has effectively undermined Steele's position, rendering him nothing more than a figurehead.
Rove disclosed during a July broadcast by Fox News, his part-time employer, that his American Crossroads groups would effectively benefit via financing loopholes opened by the Supreme Court's Citizens United decision....
Rove and Gillespie said the American Crossroads groups aim to raise and spend over $50 million to influence the 2010 elections. IRS forms obtained by the media showed the "shadow RNC" groups had raised $4.7 million by the end of July, with just four individual billionaires cited as donating over 97 percent of the total.
Tim Dickenson, writing for Rolling Stone, called the plot nothing less than a "coup of the Republican party".
And I haven't even mentioned organizations like the Koch brothers-funded, lobbyist-headed FreedomWorks, which, as today's New York Times notes, is training volunteers for the fall campaign:
The goal is to turn local Tea Party groups into a standing get-out-the-vote operation in Congressional districts across the country. Sarah Palin made community organizing a term of derision during the 2008 presidential campaign; FreedomWorks has made Tea Party conservatives the surprise community organizing force of the 2010 midterm elections, showing on-the-ground strength in races like the Republican primary for the Senate in Alaska on Tuesday, where the upstart Joe Miller was leading Senator Lisa Murkowski in a race that may take weeks to call.
...Through its political action committee, FreedomWorks plans to spend $10 million on the midterm elections, on campaign paraphernalia -- signs for candidates like Rand Paul of Kentucky and Marco Rubio of Florida are stacked around the offices here -- voter lists, and a phone system that allows volunteers to make calls for candidates around the country from their home computers. With "microfinancing" grants, it will steer money from FreedomWorks donors -- the tax code protects their anonymity -- to local Tea Parties.
Oh, and in case anyone thinks the tea party folks hate both parties:
Its candidates are libertarians and economic conservatives, but in the 2010 midterm elections, FreedomWorks is urging Tea Party groups to work for any Republican, on the theory that a compromised Republican is better than Democratic control of Congress.
This is the real GOP, and Michael Steele is irrelevant to it.