Building a Bigger Senate Conservative Farm Team

Rep. Shelley Moore Capito
National Journal
Scott Bland
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Scott Bland
May 9, 2014, 7:37 a.m.

Next Tues­day, most of the at­ten­tion will go to Neb­raska‘s fas­cin­at­ing, late-break­ing GOP Sen­ate primary, which doubles as con­ser­vat­ive out­side groups’ best chance to snare a Sen­ate seat in 2014. Keep an eye on WV-02, too, one of the places where Sen­ate Con­ser­vat­ives Fund and oth­ers are try­ing to build a farm team to give them­selves more op­por­tun­it­ies in the fu­ture.

— Es­pe­cially with state Mis­sis­sippi state Sen. Chris McDaniel (R) suf­fer­ing from rev­el­a­tions of old ra­dio com­ments, Neb­raska’s Ben Sas­se (R) is the greatest re­main­ing hope for groups like SCF after set­backs across the map this year. With banker Sid Dinsdale (R) mak­ing a late self-fun­ded charge after fron­trun­ners Sas­se and Shane Os­born (R) beat each oth­er up, the stakes are very high for a few out­side groups look­ing for wins next Tues­day.

— Mean­while, in WV-02, SCF and friends have fo­cused on the state’s open House dis­trict after fail­ing to pre­vent its cur­rent oc­cu­pant, Rep. Shel­ley Moore Capito (R), from breez­ing to the party’s Sen­ate nom­in­a­tion. Groups like the SCF, the Club for Growth and oth­er gnashed their teeth over Capito’s Sen­ate run in late 2012—but they couldn’t de­rail it. By sup­port­ing Alex Mooney (R) in WV-02 and House can­did­ates in a few oth­er states this year, SCF and oth­er en­dors­ers are look­ing to seed the House with fu­ture Sen­ate con­tenders to pre­vent the scen­ario from re­peat­ing.

— Mooney has out­spent the field to put him­self in po­s­i­tion, but that strength high­lights something else: The former Mary­land GOP chair, who was a state sen­at­or there and con­sidered run­ning for MD-06 in 2012, is get­ting al­most com­pletely fun­ded from out of state. He brought in less than $10,000 in item­ized dona­tions from West Vir­gin­ia in 2013, and the pace hasn’t picked up much: His pre-primary FEC re­port shows just three West Vir­gin­ia in­di­vidu­al donors.

It’s not that there’s no loc­al money to be had: In neigh­bor­ing WV-03, Evan Jen­kins (R) has raised well over a quarter-mil­lion dol­lars in item­ized dona­tions from West Vir­gini­ans. There’s simply a lot of out­side in­terest in what hap­pens to WV-02 this year.

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