The U.S. Chamber of Commerce is ready to take on the tea party in 2014 Senate primaries and elections with a deep-pocketed boost of establishment and business Republican candidates, The Wall Street Journal reports.
“Our No. 1 focus is to make sure, when it comes to the Senate, that we have no loser candidates,” Chamber strategist Scott Reed told the Journal. “That will be our mantra: No fools on our ticket.”
The financial support, which The Hill reported would pour at least $50 million into the campaigns of centrist GOP candidates, is part of an aggressive approach toward tea party Republicans since the 16-day October government shutdown.
The Chamber has expressed its displeasure with tea party favorites Sen. Ted Cruz of Texas and Sen. Mike Lee of Utah, who resisted passing a budget without a provision that to defund Obamacare, triggering the stalemate.
Just a month later, the Chamber jumped into the intraparty GOP voting, backing establishment GOP candidate Bradley Byrne over tea party prospect Dean Young in an Alabama special House election.
Byrne beat Young, and went on to an easy victory in the Dec. 17 special election, defeating Democrat Burton LeFlore.
The Chamber — which hasn’t usually gotten involved in GOP primaries — is airing ads for Rep. Mike Simpson in Idaho, where he faces a tea party-back challenger in his race for a ninth House term.
Hard-right candidates’ blunders are perceived to have cost the GOP five Senate seats in recent years, The Hill reported.
Republicans, for example, lost Senate elections in Indiana and Missouri after conservative candidates made controversial comments about abortion and rape that hurt their support, particularly among women.
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