NRCC May Pick Sides in Primaries

Posted May 21, 2008 at 10:21am

On the heels of devastating losses in three straight special elections, House GOP leaders are now planning to step up their role in primaries in an effort to prevent situations that leave GOP nominees “short on resources and bloodied for the general election.”

During a closed-door Conference meeting Wednesday, House Minority Leader John Boehner (R-Ohio) announced that Republican leaders are gearing up to make a “series of positive changes” at the National Republican Congressional Committee.

These changes include becoming more proactive in primaries where Republican leaders “can make a difference,” according to a copy of Boehner’s talking points.

The GOP leader said he has tapped Rep. Pete Sessions (R-Texas) to take the lead on establishing a series of candidate funds for targeted races with late primary elections.

NRCC Chairman Tom Cole (Okla.) will also employ two independent auditors to conduct “a thorough, top-to-bottom review of what has worked and what hasn’t” in the most recent special elections.

“I think this sort of ‘after-action report’ will help us determine what we can do better,” the Minority Leader said.

Boehner declined to name the two auditors at Conference because one is out of the country and he has yet to be able to speak to the Member, but the pair is believed to be former NRCC Chairman Tom Davis (Va.) and Rep. Patrick Tiberi (Ohio).

Republicans have an additional primary in New York to consider this year after Rep. Vito Fossella’s (R-N.Y.) decision to retire after disclosing an extramarital affair with a former Air Force official.

“We’re going to take all steps necessary to maximize our chance of holding the seat,” Boehner said.

Meanwhile, GOP leaders will continue to push their new “Change America Deserves” agenda in an effort to create positive campaign themes that can help candidates in their districts. Two components of this agenda — one targeting working mothers and families, and the other targeting suburban households — will receive an extra push.

To that end, Boehner said GOP leaders will be developing sample TV and radio ads to help Republican challengers and Members promote their “positive message of change.”