"The current party establishment or leaders don't hold the views on many issues as do a majority of the rank-in-file, who are conservatives -- you see them going in different directions," said an aide to a senior House Republican with close ties to leadership. "There's a real battle right now."
So far this cycle, YG Action has made independent expenditures in two House races with competitive primaries: One, a member-versus-member primary in Illinois's 16th District on behalf of Rep. Adam Kinzinger, who beat Rep. Don Manzullo, and another in North Carolina's 8th District on behalf of a candidate who has served as a longtime aide on Capitol Hill.
The Kinzinger spending earned Cantor some resentment among House Republican ranks. A source familiar with YG Action explained the group's decision to meddle in a safe Republican district this way: Kinzinger was the candidate that is emblematic of the Young Guns brand.
In North Carolina, the group is backing Richard Hudson, a former chief of staff to Texas GOP Reps. Mike Conaway and John Carter and Rep. Virginia Foxx, R-N.C. In that primary, the winner of which will get to take on vulnerable Rep. Larry Kissell, YG Action stands opposed to the conservative Club for Growth, which supports Scott Keadle.
The YG Network 501 c(4) also spent a significant amount on mailers on behalf of Sen. Richard Lugar, the six-term Indiana Republican who faces a tough primary challenge from the right. That spending had some wondering just how Lugar fit the Young Guns brand.
But all three expenditures fit YG Action's emerging reputation: Where the NRCC is concerned solely with incumbent protection and building and maintaining majorities, YG Action will also ally itself with candidates who are ideologically in line with the Young Guns philosophy -- that is, Cantor, McCarthy and Ryan's philosophy. Where the Club For Growth considers a candidate's policy positions above his or her electability, YG Action will take the majority into account.
Murray said the group aims to get involved in 15 to 20 races this year.
"To deliver results requires a majority, and the goal is to expand the conservative majority with Young Gun style candidates," said YG Action senior adviser Brad Dayspring.