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Former White House Deputy Chief of Staff Karl Rove is seen at the Republican National Convention in Tampa, Florida August 27, 2012.
Karl "Turdblossom" Rove
Karl Rove's big new effort to lock down Republican primaries for the establishment rather than letting tea party candidates get through only to crash and burn in the general election gets more delicious every day. Because it's reigniting exactly the Republican civil war that Rove is looking to preemptively win with this effort.

Despite his failures of 2012, Rove still has deep-pocketed donors lined up, ready to hand over millions more for 2014. But that doesn't mean the tea party-branded counter-establishment is just going to roll over; instead, groups like FreedomWorks and the Club for Growth are just going to fight back with their own millions in these primary battles. Politico captures the beauty of the situation:

The resulting battle would pit two well-funded factions of the conservative base against one another in a set of expensive primaries that could drain resources, produce weakened nominees and set back the GOP’s chances to retake the Senate and protect its House majority. And it would further complicate already tricky efforts to carefully reposition the GOP on hot-button issues like immigration, gun control and fiscal policy.

“This is a little bit like gang warfare right now,” said Matt Kibbe, president of FreedomWorks, a tea-party-linked nonprofit that spent more than $60 million in the 2012 cycle, including backing candidates opposed by Rove’s allies.

Meanwhile, each side is assailing the electability of the other side's favored candidates. First, Steven Law, president of Rove's American Crossroads, questioned the electability of Iowa Rep. Steve King, only to have to backtrack and point out that American Crossroads had spent $400,000 to support King in 2012. And Rove and Law need to be able to point to problem Republican candidates to justify the money they're trying to raise. But there's an electability argument to be made on the other side, too:
Chris Chocola, the president of Club for Growth, the conservative group that has taken an active role in Republican primaries, criticized the new effort by Mr. Rove. Mr. Chocola said it was incorrect to suggest that candidates backed by Tea Party groups were the only ones to lose last year, pointing to establishment Republicans defeated in Montana, New Mexico, North Dakota and Wisconsin.

He said the “electability argument” Republican leaders make in Washington had produced candidates who have not been able to inspire conservative activists.

Guys, I think the problem here is that the Republican party's ideas are unpopular and that your candidates keep, you know, talking about those ideas. Whether they're "establishment" candidates (mostly focused on giving corporations free rein, but also bigoted) or "anti-establishment" candidates (mostly bigoted, but also interested in giving corporations free rein) is a side issue. But please, by all means, spend hundreds of millions of dollars arguing about it.

Originally posted to Laura Clawson on Thu Feb 07, 2013 at 08:47 AM PST.

Also republished by Daily Kos.

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