The U.S. Chamber of Commerce is gearing up to spend at least $50 million in an effort to embolden the campaigns of establishment Republicans running in primaries against more conservative GOP candidates leading up to the 2014 elections.
According to The Wall Street Journal, the Chamber fears that candidates with strong Tea Party views are more likely than establishment Republicans to lose winnable seats to Democrats.
“Our No. 1 focus is to make sure, when it comes to the Senate, that we have no loser candidates,” Chamber political strategist Scott Reed told the newspaper. “That will be our mantra: No fools on our ticket.”
The Chamber’s anti-Tea Party attitude became more apparent than ever following the government shutdown. The group has joined other organizations such as American Crossroads and the GOP leadership in its quest to get more centrist Republicans in office.
Earlier this month, House Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio) gave a taste of the coming establishment attack on the GOP’s conservative fringe when he unloaded on conservative groups who have criticized his agenda throughout the years and more recently criticized the $85 billion bipartisan budget compromise.
“Frankly, I think they’re misleading their followers. I think they’re pushing our members in places they don’t want to be,” he said of Tea Party groups. “And, frankly, I just think they’ve lost all credibility.”
States where the Chamber could get involved to block Tea Party candidates include Iowa, North Carolina and Georgia.
But conservative groups like Heritage Action say that the Chamber’s and GOP establishment’s efforts to create a Party of obedient lawmakers are out of step with the average American’s agenda.
“Lawmakers do not have a monopoly on information, and we will continue to communicate directly with their constituents on important legislation as it moves through Congress,” Michael Needham, chief executive of Heritage Action, told The Wall Street Journal.
Needham went on to note that most lawmakers “will find it difficult to go back home and defend votes that increase spending, increase deficits and undermine the rule of law.”