In 2008 the National Republican Senatorial Committee spent millions of dollars in Republican primaries to keep incumbents in office and keep dynamic challengers with new ideas and real drive for reform out of office. They supported candidates like Charlie Crist and Arlen Specter who took their money and then left the Republican Party. They supported insider hacks like Trey Grayson against grassroots candidates like Rand Paul. In many cases their efforts failed, but in several states they likely cost Republicans seats in the Senate. If the money they spent in primaries had been saved for the general election Republicans might well control the Senate today. The NRSC’s record for 2010 was disastrous for the party and they squandered the money of their contributors.
A lot of rank and file Republicans saw what the NRSC did in 2010 and decided they’d had enough. Donations to the NRSC are down and as a result their Democrat counterparts have been outfundraising them this year. Republican voters who are serious about reclaiming government for the people are increasingly deciding to give their money to groups they trust and candidates they believe in rather than to establishment groups like the NRSC who have made preserving a status quo of perpetual incumbency their priority. The people want change and the NRSC stands for nothing but more of the same.
Now it appears that the NRSC has learned nothing from their mistakes in 2010 and they are already beginning to use their money and influence to pick winners and losers in the 2012 Republican primaries. They are taking money raised from Republican donors who want a party which has the best candidates and remains true to its principles and giving it to insiders who have already failed the party and failed the people over and over again. Some of those they are supporting are among those Senators who are at the top of the list of those who most Republicans would like to see replaced by new leaders with more conservative principles.
Top on the list of NRSC beneficiaries is Utah’s 5-term Senator Orin Hatch who has been in office too long and become jaded and out of touch with the people.
In 2010 when the other Senate seat in Utah came up for election the NRSC put their money behind incumbent Senator Bob Bennett who was so unpopular with the people of Utah that he came in third to two Tea Party candidates, ultimately being replaced by Liberty Republican Mike Lee who has already emerged as a leader in the movement for serious fiscal conservatism in the Senate.
The people of Utah are eager to replace 30 year incumbent Orin Hatch with someone new and dynamic, and the NRSC has already committed to supporting Hatch, giving him over $43,000 before the election has really even gotten off the ground. Tea Party groups have been protesting the NRSC’s involvement, but they seem determined to repeat the mistakes of 2010 letter for letter.
Senator Dick Lugar of Indiana is another 30 year incumbent Senator who has lost the support of the grassroots. Yet the NRSC has decided to back him against a primary challenge from a Tea Party candidate with a strong popular following.
Senator Olympia Snowe of Maine hasn’t been in office as long as Lugar and Hatch, but she is consistently rated as one of the most unpopular Republican Senators among Republican voters because of her poor record on fiscal issues and her efforts to tax and regulate the internet. She votes with the Democrats far too often on budget issues and is out of touch with the increasingly fiscally conservative thrust of the Republican Party. She faces two grassroots challengers in 2012, yet the NRSC has already committed to support her campaign.
The NRSC seems not to understand how angry most Republicans are with the failed policies of the big spending, irresponsible insiders who have been running the party and holding office for far too long. When confronted on this issue, NRSC spokesman Brian Walsh announced that they intended to “assist every incumbent who is facing a competitive or potentially competitive (primary) race.”
All Republicans want to see the Senate taken from the Democrats, but not necessarily at the cost of electing the same failed leaders to offices they have held for far too long. Tea Party groups are outraged by the actions of the NRSC’s commitment to a system of perpetual incumbency. Incumbents already have huge advantages and giving them more money to make it as hard as possible to remove them from office works against the best interests of the people and the party.
Republicans are as unhappy with their party leaders as they are with President Obama and they are demanding that groups like the NRSC stay out of primaries and focus their efforts on defeating Democrats in the general election for the good of the GOP and for the good of the nation. Rotation in office stimulates better government and endless incumbency breeds indifference and corruption. A level playing field in primary elections gives the people a chance to be heard and vote for the changes in leadership we need.
FreedomWorks has launched a campaign to “retire Hatch” and Fair Primary 2012 has announced the Fair Primary Pledge which voters are signing to promise not to give money to any party organization which picks sides in primaries and spends to give an advantage to party insiders.