Question for Ted Cruz: Should conservatives withhold donations from the NRSC after Thad Cochran's win?

Roll Call’s trying to get an answer from him after the Senate Conservatives Fund called for a boycott this past weekend. He’s the vice chairman in charge of grassroots outreach for the NRSC, but he’s also a longstanding ally of the SCF’s whose relationship with the group has irritated his GOP colleagues in the Senate. Now he’s in the crossfire.

No comment so far.

[T]he Texas Republican supported the SCF’s efforts in the past. He made an appearance in a recent SCF television ad to boost former Oklahoma Speaker of the House T.W. Shannon. Rep. James Lankford defeated Shannon in a GOP primary for Sen. Tom Coburn’s seat, which is open because the Oklahoma Republican is resigning at the end of this Congress.

Multiple queries to Cruz’s office Sunday and Monday asking if he would disavow the SCF’s effort to defund the NRSC yielded no response from the senator.

“Majority-Leader-Wannabe Mitch McConnell, NRSC Chairman Jerry Moran, and the others who supported Thad Cochran’s disgraceful attacks on Chris McDaniel are part of the problem,” SCF President Ken Cuccinelli said in a message to supporters. “These politicians don’t believe in the principles of freedom that make America great. Their ideology is power and they will do anything to keep it.”

Here’s the SCF petition calling for choking off funds to the NRSC. I’ve gotta say: They have a case.

We must remember that the establishment urged Cochran to run against McDaniel even though Cochran wanted to retire.

We must remember that the establishment opposed McDaniel even though Cochran had been in Washington for 41 years and had voted for wasteful spending, more debt, and higher taxes…

We must remember that the National Republican Senatorial Committee (NRSC) continued to oppose McDaniel after he won the most Republican votes in the primary, and then spent $175,000 of party money to defeat McDaniel in the runoff.

All true, but I’m reluctant to go along. And honestly, I’m not sure whether the SCF strategy is too dangerous or not dangerous enough. One of my points on Friday in arguing that Mississippi tea partiers should consider voting Democratic was that choking off money just isn’t enough of a threat in an age when Republican billionaires can replace millions in lost funds with one check. If the NRSC finds itself $5 million short because of a grassroots boycott, what’s to stop middlemen from dialing up Sheldon Adelson et al. and asking them to make up the shortfall with donations to Super PACs involved in key races? So maybe the boycott wouldn’t work. Or maybe it would work and wholly innocent GOP candidates would suffer because of it. It’d be a bad outcome if righteous rage at Cochran and his cronies ended up with Tom Cotton losing to Mark Pryor because there just wasn’t enough money down the stretch in Arkansas. If you want to make a statement about Mississippi, there’s an obvious solution: Get Mississippi Republicans to either stay home or to vote for Travis Childers in the general election. I already gave you the pros and cons of that; either you elect another Joe-Manchin-style Democrat to the Senate who’ll think hard before moving too far left lest he be trounced by Mississippians in 2020 or you validate the Cochran cronies’ tactics by reelecting an old-school pork-peddling Republican dinosaur. I’m not saying it’s an easy choice, but it is a choice worth thinking hard about.

My feeling about the NRSC is that they should be on de facto probation until 2016. Specifically, I want to see how they handle Mike Lee’s reelection bid in Utah. Lee’s going to face headwinds there from establishmentarians who loathe him for his role in the shutdown last year; they’ll also be eager to symbolically undo his tea-party-propelled victory over Bob Bennett in 2010. If the NRSC really is all about protecting incumbents, it should be decisively on Lee’s side against the Romneys and Huntsmans and other business-class Republicans eager to knock him off. If they’re not, then obviously they’re picking favorites based on ideological bent, at which point conservatives might as well pull the plug and let the donor class fund the NRSC entirely. If the committee can’t even defend a serious legislator like Lee who’s taken the lead in reorienting Republican policies towards helping the middle class, they’re beyond hope. That’s third-party territory.