Feb. 14, 2016 SIGN IN | REGISTER

Republican Super PAC War Splits the Party

Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call
Priebus’ new agenda for the GOP has a long list of recommendations for allies of the party, but it’s unlikely to smooth over intraparty rifts.

A cottage industry of new Republican super PACs run by a diverse array of tea party activists, conservative organizers and established operatives is making the GOP look less like a political party than a collection of competing outside groups.

Republican National Committee Chairman Reince Priebus’ new “Growth & Opportunity” agenda includes a long list of recommendations for these “Friends and Allies.” But bickering among the GOP’s increasingly influential outside players has underscored intraparty rifts.

Though media attention has spotlighted tea party attacks on Republican rainmaker Karl Rove’s new Conservative Victory Project, his effort is only one of at least a half-dozen groups representing the GOP’s various factions that have launched since January.

These include the Real Conservatives National Committee, a super PAC announced Tuesday by tea party organizers Lorie Medina and Michael Patrick Leahy. Also new on the scene are NewRepublican.org, a super PAC launched by GOP pundit and consultant Alex Castellanos; the Tea Party Patriots Citizens Fund, a tea party PAC that’s set out to raise $20 million in this election cycle; and the Conservative Melting Pot PAC, run by blogger Crystal Wright.

They join a motley collection of smaller groups registered in recent weeks with the Federal Election Commission, some without websites or obvious funding sources and with names like Conservative Strike Force Super PAC, Real Conservatives US and No More Wimpouts. The last has mounted three campy web “ads,” including one that features a doctored image of Rove wearing floppy dog ears and deriding him as an “establishment back-room wheeler and dealer.”

Rove has labored to avoid a fight with right-leaning critics since The New York Times disclosed in February that his Conservative Victory Project aims to help the most electable candidate win GOP primaries, potentially countering the influence of tea party and conservative groups.

The latest attack on Rove’s group came from L. Brent Bozell, chairman of the conservative advocacy group ForAmerica, who released an open letter to big GOP donors on March 14 that essentially urged them to give Rove’s new super PAC the cold shoulder. Bozell is also founder and president of the conservative Media Research Center.

Signed by more than a dozen conservative organizers and groups, including the Tea Party Express and the Family Research Council, the letter warned that “the model that will be employed by the Conservative Victory Project has proven to be ineffective and a waste of political resources.”

Rove could not be reached for comment, but he recently said on “Fox News Sunday” that the political party that does not control the White House “tends to have these difficulties; this is nothing new and nothing exceptional.”

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