Updated: December 26, 2013, 4:42 PM
Outside conservative groups quickly denounced the Chamber of Commerce for planning to spend tens of millions to boost pro-business Republicans against challenges from ultra-conservative primary challengers.
The groups responded to a report in The Wall Street Journal that said the Chamber of Commerce plans to spend $50 million to support pro-business establishment Republicans and take control of the Senate in the next election cycle. Those Republicans are the ones outside conservative groups like The Madison Project, FreedomWorks and Senate Conservatives Fund hope to replace with tea-party backed conservative primary challengers.
“Special interests in Washington will do whatever it takes to protect big government Republicans,” Senate Conservatives Fund Executive Director Matt Hoskins wrote in an email to TPM on Thursday. “Their ability to get future bailouts, kickbacks, and other favors depends on it.”
Similarly, Daniel Horowitz, the policy director for The Madison Project and a blogger for Red State called the Chamber of Commerce’s efforts “pretty pathetic.” In an email to TPM, also on Thursday, Horowitz wrote:
With Congress’s approval rating in the single digits, there is a bipartisan consensus among the people that it’s time for a new direction. Whether people agree with all of our views or not, the Tea Party is actually the only group willing to do something about the status quo. We are trying to replace the leadership of both parties and install citizen legislator candidates who will not be tied to special interests and will not make politics a career.
Amazingly, the Chamber is just the opposite. They are happy with the status quo, as long as their interests are taken care of. They claim to represent the business community, but they only represent the power brokers. If the strongest players on the block are those in power, they will circle the wagons around them. This is what Jim DeMint used to call venture socialism. They are fine with big government and government intervention so long as they can make money off of it. It’s pretty pathetic to spend $50 million defending the status quo that everyone on both sides of the spectrum believes has failed the country.
Observers shouldn’t be surprised that the Chamber of Commerce is spending so much money to try and defeat tea party challengers, FreedomWorks senior fellow Tom Borrelli said.
“One of the biggest myths out there is that the tea party is a creation of big business. Nothing is further for the truth. Big business, again, likes big government,” Borrelli told TPM on Thursday.
Borelli said his group’s response to the Chamber’s $50 million is just to “just to support the brand of Republicans that we think should be in Congress, those who are going to fight for limited government, lower taxes, and more freedom”
“This is a battle between the outsiders and insiders and insiders include big bucks and establishment Republicans,” Borelli added.
The goal of the Chamber of Commerce’s push is to make sure Republicans aren’t stuck with “loser candidates” in general elections, Chamber of Commerce political strategist Scott Reed told the Journal.
“Our No. 1 focus is to make sure, when it comes to the Senate, that we have no loser candidates,” Reed said. “That will be our mantra: No fools on our ticket.”
Already the fighting has erupted into clear public view. Earlier in December House Speaker John Boehner (R-OH) strongly criticized groups like SCF, the Madison Project, FreedomWorks and Heritage Action for America for opposing the two-year Murray-Ryan budget deal.
“They’re using our members and they’re using the American people for their own goals. This is ridiculous,” Boehner said in mid-December.
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