At a forum Wednesday, Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell attacked the National Popular Vote campaigns leadership as eccentric.
"This is, to me, a nonpartisan issue," said GOP Committeeman Saul Anuzis, former chairman of the Michigan GOP and a consultant to National Popular Vote. "It's a question of what is the right way to elect a president. In every other office in the land, we elect the person who gets the most votes, from dog catcher to governor."
Public polling shows strong majorities on both sides of the aisle back replacing the Electoral College with a national popular vote system, FairVote Executive Director Rob Richie said. An October Gallup poll showed 62 percent of Americans favor such a switch.
But McConnell warned that replacing the Electoral College would pave the way for voter fraud and for widespread litigation. He and other speakers warned that registration and voter ID requirements differ from state to state, and a popular vote system would dramatically shift power to major population centers.
Fighting the popular vote movement has emerged as a leading initiative of the SGLF, a project of a powerhouse GOP 527 group known as the Republican State Leadership Committee. Chaired by GOP strategist Ed Gillespie, who was counselor to Bush, the RSLC spent just less than $30 million in the 2010 elections.
RSLC President Chris Jankowski is executive director of the SGLF, which will also spotlight labor, education and immigration issues of interest to state legislators from a small-government perspective.
A spokesman said the group has a budget "well into the seven figures" and that it is expected to double in size by the end of 2012, but he declined to provide specifics.