Senate Republicans’ response to a disappointing election night in which they lost two seats is starting at the National Republican Senatorial Committee.
Senate Republicans on Wednesday elected Sen. Jerry Moran, R-Kan., as the new chairman of the NRSC. Moran ran unopposed for the job after Sen. Rob Portman, R-Ohio, announced he would not seek the position. But Moran announced in a media stakeout that Portman will join the committee as NRSC Vice Chairman for Finance. In that job Portman will play a large in fundraising, arguably the NRSC’s most important function. Moran said Sen.-elect Ted Cruz, R-Texas, will serve as NRSC Vice Chairman for grassroots outreach.
Republicans surely hope that Cruz will help address their much-noted deficit with Hispanic voters. But as a Tea Party favorite who won early backing from Sen. Jim DeMint, R-S.C., in a GOP primary, Cruz might also help the committee address its at-times oppositional relationship with grassroots conservative groups including the Senate Conservatives Fund, the super PAC DeMint founded, the Club for Growth, Americans for Prosperity and other Tea Party groups. The ability of those groups to fundraise online from small donors and fund candidates outside the orbit of the national party is a major concern for Senate Republican leaders. GOP aides argue such groups helped handicap GOP candidate recruiting and forced primaries that weakened general election candidates.
A major focus for Republican leaders is better unifying their efforts with grassroots organizations to avoid battles between the party establishment and grassroots.