McConnell Amps Up Feud With Conservative Group

The Senate minority leader and his allies have declared war on the Senate Conservatives Fund.

Stone wall: McConnell & Co. frowns on Obama delays.
National Journal
Alex Roarty
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Alex Roarty
Nov. 25, 2013, 9:50 a.m.

When Mitch Mc­Con­nell wants to des­troy you, you’ll know it.

The Sen­ate minor­ity lead­er has de­clared war against the Sen­ate Con­ser­vat­ives Fund, an out­side group sup­port­ing his Re­pub­lic­an primary op­pon­ent, Matt Bev­in. But rather than mov­ing on and fo­cus­ing on his Demo­crat­ic op­pon­ent, Mc­Con­nell and his al­lies have trained their at­tacks on SCF and its al­lies — with no ap­par­ent en­dgame in sight.

The latest salvo came Monday, when Na­tion­al Re­view pub­lished a story that de­tailed the Ken­tucky sen­at­or’s deep dis­pleas­ure with Neb­raska GOP can­did­ate Ben Sas­se for be­ing en­dorsed by the con­ser­vat­ive group. Mc­Con­nell let him know about it dur­ing a one-on-one meet­ing earli­er this month.

“As he walked out of the room, Sas­se turned to [Mc­Con­nell ad­viser Josh] Holmes — ‘That didn’t go well!’ ” wrote NR‘s Jonath­an Strong.

The re­port also re­vealed that pres­sure from “Mc­Con­nell al­lies” forced SCF’s book­keep­er in­to leav­ing the group last week.

Right now, Mc­Con­nell is fight­ing a three-front war: Bev­in, Demo­crat Al­is­on Lun­der­gan Grimes, and the out­side con­ser­vat­ive group. At times, his cam­paign seems most fo­cused on the lat­ter:

— In early Novem­ber, the Na­tion­al Re­pub­lic­an Sen­at­ori­al Com­mit­tee an­nounced it would not is­sue con­tracts to Jamestown As­so­ci­ates be­cause of the work the con­ser­vat­ive con­sult­ing group did with SCF. This mo­ment, ac­cord­ing to Re­pub­lic­ans on both sides of the feud, was the spark that lit the fuse of the on­go­ing battle.

— The no-holds-barred ap­proach to out­side crit­ics was best de­scribed by Holmes, in the same New York Times story. “SCF has been wan­der­ing around the coun­try des­troy­ing the Re­pub­lic­an Party like a drunk who tears up every bar they walk in­to,” Holmes said. “The dif­fer­ence this cycle is that they strolled in­to Mitch Mc­Con­nell’s bar and he doesn’t throw you out, he locks the door.”

— An NR­SC spokes­man cri­ti­cized SCF Ex­ec­ut­ive Dir­ect­or Matt Hoskins by name in a Na­tion­al Journ­al story about the Michigan Sen­ate race.

— Last month, Mc­Con­nell said in a con­fer­ence call with GOP donors that SCF needed to be punched in the face like a school­yard bully, ac­cord­ing to the Wash­ing­ton Ex­am­iner.

— A spokes­wo­man for Mc­Con­nell’s reelec­tion cam­paign called cri­ti­cism from SCF blam­ing Mc­Con­nell for fal­lout over the nuc­le­ar op­tion “pro­foundly stu­pid.”

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