It’s a bad time for Terri Lynn Land to visit Washington.
The Michigan Senate GOP candidate is attending a fundraiser in the nation’s capital next week hosted by Mitch McConnell, the Senate minority leader and favorite punching bag of some prominent conservatives. Under normal circumstances, such an event — and the unofficial endorsement of the Republican establishment it brings — risks blowback from rank-and-file Republicans, but is common enough to be relatively unremarkable.
But this is an especially perilous time, even for a conflict as acrimonious as the one between GOP leaders and their base. The National Republican Senatorial Committee’s decision to forgo a business relationship with Jamestown Associates, a GOP consulting firm, because of its work for the antiestablishment Senate Conservatives Fund has infuriated some conservatives. And their anger was compounded when the NRSC’s executive director, Rob Collins, told reporters the Senate Republicans’ political arm would work aggressively to ensure its favored candidates won their primaries.
Now, that anger could hurt candidates like Lynn who associated with McConnell and his allies. SCF’s executive director, Matt Hoskins, declined to comment on Land or the Michigan race (the group has not endorsed her). But in an interview with National Journal Hotline, he issued a general warning to all Republican candidates.
“Now that the NRSC has publicly admitted that it will take sides in Republican primary elections, candidates will have to be extremely careful about their interaction with the Washington establishment,” Hoskins said. “If they’re not careful, the grass roots will perceive them to be too cozy with the Republican establishment. “
He added: “The grass roots are very sensitive to these things, and they can spot a RINO [Republican in name only] when they see one.”
For Land, the controversy illustrates the difficult balance she must retain between the party’s two wings. Michigan’s twice-elected former secretary of state, she had positioned herself to the right of many Senate Republicans during the government shutdown. She signed a Senate Conservatives Fund pledge to defund the Affordable Care Act and opposed the vote to reopen the government and avoid breaching the debt-ceiling limit. In other words, she opposed the very deal engineered by McConnell.
But she has also become the Wolverine State GOP’s presumed nominee in the open-seat race to replace retiring Sen. Carl Levin, in part because of her surprisingly strong fundraising — along with the $1 million of her own money she’s kicked into her campaign — and the decision by a spate of potential rivals to pass on the contest. In doing so, she has received the imprimatur of the Republican establishment, led by McConnell, who is hosting the fundraiser at the NRSC along with 16 other GOP senators.
John Yob, a consultant for Land’s campaign, says Land still believes voting to reopen the government was a mistake. But he declined to say McConnell made a mistake by supporting the last-minute deal.
“She’s not going to get involved in any disagreement there,” Yob said. “She’s working very hard to unite factions of the party so she can win a contested election in a purple state.”
Land isn’t in any immediate danger: She doesn’t face any conservative opposition for her party’s nomination. And derision from groups like SCF doesn’t guarantee any Senate candidate will struggle to win the party’s nomination.
In any case, the conflict between the SCF and the NRSC rages on. Told of Hoskins’s comment that Republican candidates shouldn’t cozy up to the NRSC, committee spokesman Brad Dayspring directly criticized the political operative. Hoskins, he said, was “desperate.”
“I don’t know what he’s talking about,” Dayspring said. “I believe Matt Hoskins runs a business, and it benefits Matt Hoskins to see his own name in print.”
What We're Following See More »
"Spurred by VP pick Mike Pence, a former congressman with close ties to many lawmakers, the Trump campaign in recent weeks has stepped up its courtship of wary Capitol Hill Republicans. And the efforts appear to be bearing fruit." Central to the charm offensive: invitations to more than a dozen "Senate and House members into his family’s private box for some power-schmoozing with him and his kids" during the Republican National Convention.
Donald Trump essentially encouraged more Russian espionage against Democrats in a press conference this morning. "Russia, if you’re listening, I hope you’re able to find the 30,000 emails that are missing,” he said. “I think you will probably be rewarded mightily by our press.” That prompted Brendan Buck, spokesman for House Speaker Paul Ryan to say: “Russia is a global menace led by a devious thug. Putin should stay out of this election.”
Investigations are never far from the Clintons, and here's another: At the behest of "dozens" of Republican lawmakers, the IRS is opening a fraud investigation into the Clinton Foundation."The move signals a shift from the IRS's announcement last year that it would not look into allegations of financial irregularities at the well-connected charity."
"Bickering commissioners, ineffective managers and lousy internal communication rank among the top reasons why the Federal Election Commission" has some of the worst morale in the federal government. That's the conclusion of an inspector general's report, which put "the most blame on the FEC’s six commissioners: three Democratic appointees and three Republican appointees who have regularly criticized one another and frequently (but not exclusively) deadlocked on high-profile political issues before them."
On Tuesday, Dennis Williams, the president of the United Auto Workers, said that Hillary Clinton has told him that she will renegotiate the North American Free Trade Agreement if elected president. Trade deals, especially NAFTA, have played a prominent role in the campaign, with Clinton receiving heat both from her Democratic rival Bernie Sanders and GOP nominee Donald Trump. The Clinton campaign did not comment on Williams's comments, though that didn't stop the Trump campaign from weighing in. Hillary Clinton "will never renegotiate Bill Clinton's NAFTA," said Stephen Miller, senior policy adviser to Trump.