“The effort would put a new twist on the Republican-vs.-Republican warfare that has consumed the party’s primary races in recent years. In effect, the establishment is taking steps to fight back against Tea Party groups and other conservative organizations that have wielded significant influence in backing candidates who ultimately lost seats to Democrats in the general election . . . .
“The Conservative Victory Project, which is backed by Karl Rove and his allies who built American Crossroads into the largest Republican super PAC of the 2012 election cycle, will start by intensely vetting prospective contenders for Congressional races to try to weed out candidates who are seen as too flawed to win general elections . . . .
“The group’s plans, which were outlined for the first time last week in an interview with [Steven] Law, call for hard-edge campaign tactics, including television advertising, against candidates whom party leaders see as unelectable and a drag on the efforts to win the Senate.”
I carry no brief for Republicans who call immigrants “dogs,” and I agree that Todd Akin and Richard Mourdock were clumsy in defense of their pro-life convictions. But how far will the purge go? Will aggressive opponents of abortion and gay marriage be pegged as unelectable?
Steve Kornacki at Salon is right that the effort might backfire: “while it’s possible the Conservative Victory Fund could save the GOP a few seats in 2014, there’s also the potential that its existence will only strengthen the right’s resolve to fight the party establishment – and to help the very candidates it’s designed to stop.”