What works in the midterms doesn’t always translate over to presidential election years, so the GOP will need to scratch their collective heads and come up with some fresh ideas. This, however, does not sound like a fresh idea at all.
Incoming Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell is exploring the creation of a super PAC dedicated to supporting Senate Republicans on the 2016 ballot, sources tell the Washington Examiner.
Senate Republicans were at a financial and advertising disadvantage for most of the 2014 cycle, as Senate Majority PAC, the super PAC of outgoing Majority Leader Harry Reid, carpet-bombed the airwaves in targeted states on behalf of Democratic candidates. McConnell wants an organization that can do the same for Republicans in 2016, a presidential year, when his barely-minted majority faces a tough Senate map, with incumbents up for re-election in states like Florida, Illinois, Ohio, Pennsylvania and Wisconsin.
McConnell sources confirmed Tuesday that the matter is under discussion, but said there was nothing to announce at this point.
McConnell wants to develop a contribution avenue for GOP donors who are specifically interested in helping Senate Republicans retain the majority. The Kentuckian wants buy-in from Republican outside groups, chief among them American Crossroads, that were considered crucial to helping GOP Senate candidates survive the advertising onslaught from well-resourced Democratic super PACs.
I’m not going to pretend that raising money isn’t important in politics at any level. Obviously it is, so it’s not some kind of whacky idea for Mitch to consider doing this. But by the same token, Harry Reid got way out in front of the GOP in the money race with his Senate Majority PAC and all that really resulted in was his new office as the Senate Minority Leader. And remember, that’s among the Democrats, who have provided a far more united front with their base and their donors than the Republicans could currently dream of.
The GOP donor base is rather heavily splintered. There was a lot of Republican money this cycle flowing in two very different and frequently conflicting rivers. Conservatives were pushing a particular set of candidates – not just in the general election, but in the primaries as well – and a lot of their financial support went to groups like the Senate Conservatives Fund. Conversely, other groups like American Crossroads collected large sums and gave them to more “establishment” style candidates. The two camps were frequently at odds, particularly in places like Mississippi.
With that in mind, I’m not sure if a GOP Senate PAC will attract the same kind of money as the Democrats manage. I think there are too many people who will keep their money on the sideline, not wanting it to be distributed by the leadership to candidates who they may fundamentally disagree with. That doesn’t mean that McConnell shouldn’t give it a try, but the headlines will look unsavory if the new PAC keeps getting beaten by Harry Reid and his eventual successor.