The GOP’s Senate Schism

Thad Cochran (R-MS) listens during a meeting of the Senate Appropriations Committee on June 9, 2009.                                                                                                                                                                                
National Journal
Josh Kraushaar
Add to Briefcase
See more stories about...
Josh Kraushaar
Oct. 18, 2013, 7:45 a.m.

If you’re look­ing for a signs of an emer­ging schism between the es­tab­lish­ment and tea party with­in the GOP, look no fur­ther than the mount­ing crop of primary chal­lengers to Re­pub­lic­an Sen­ate in­cum­bents. In 2010 and 2012, tea party act­iv­ists picked their most vul­ner­able tar­gets, like Lugar, Hatch and Ben­nett. Now they’re go­ing after the en­tire es­tab­lish­ment.

— With state sen­at­or Chris McDaniel‘s cam­paign against Mis­sis­sippi Sen. Thad Co­chran, half of the 12 Re­pub­lic­an sen­at­ors up for reelec­tion now face threats from the right. A sev­enth, Texas Sen. John Cornyn, is wor­ried enough about a primary that he voted against the gov­ern­ment-fund­ing com­prom­ise.

— While most of the up­starts are clear un­der­dogs, McDaniel is the closest to ac­tu­ally win­ning a Sen­ate seat. The state le­gis­lat­or’s well-or­ches­trated en­trance was de­signed as much to put pres­sure on Co­chran to re­tire. The Sen­ate Con­ser­vat­ives Fund and Club for Growth each blas­ted en­dorse­ments out with­in minutes of his an­nounce­ment. One con­ser­vat­ive op­er­at­ive in­volved in the race called him “the Jim De­Mint of the Mis­sis­sippi state le­gis­lature” and ex­pects him to be more for­mid­able than any of the oth­er con­ser­vat­ive Sen­ate chal­lengers.

— McDaniel and his al­lies read the polit­ic­al tea leaves in Mis­sis­sippi ef­fect­ively. Co­chran only raised $53,000 in the third quarter, a tell­tale sign the long­time ap­pro­pri­at­or is head­ing to the exits. If Co­chran does step down, McDaniel would be­come an early fron­trun­ner as the con­ser­vat­ive can­did­ate, with na­tion­al fun­drais­ing as­sets be­hind him. Mis­sis­sippi, after all, is a deeply Re­pub­lic­an state with a very con­ser­vat­ive primary elect­or­ate.

It’s strik­ing that the Club for Growth, which tra­di­tion­ally fo­cuses on the House, has now en­dorsed more can­did­ates for the Sen­ate (2) this cycle. The Sen­ate Con­ser­vat­ives Fund is now of­fi­cially op­pos­ing Sen­ate Minor­ity Lead­er Mitch Mc­Con­nell, back­ing his tea party chal­lenger Matt Bev­in. With House Re­pub­lic­ans already march­ing in line with the base, out­side groups are work­ing to re­shape the Sen­ate more to their lik­ing.

What We're Following See More »
McCain Won’t Support Graham-Cassidy Bill
2 hours ago

In a statement Friday, Sen. John McCain wrote, "I cannot in good conscience vote for the Graham-Cassidy proposal. I believe we could do better working together, Republicans and Democrats, and have not yet really tried. Nor could I support it without knowing how much it will cost, how it will effect insurance premiums, and how many people will be helped or hurt by it. Without a full CBO score, which won't be available by the end of the month, we won't have reliable answers to any of those questions." His "no" vote makes it much less likely Republicans will repeal and replace Obamacare by Sept. 30.

DeVos Officially Replaces Obama-era Sexual Assault Guidelines
3 hours ago

As anticipated, the Department of Education today withdrew the controversial Obama-era "Dear Colleague" letter on campus sexual assault, replacing it with new interim guidance. Most notably, the new guidance permits colleges to use a “clear and convincing” standard of evidence, rather than the preponderance of evidence standard that the 2011 letter seemed to mandate. "The new guidance also states that colleges may facilitate informal resolutions, including mediation, if all parties agree to participate in that process."

Country-Specific Rules to Replace Travel Ban
4 hours ago

"The Trump administration will unveil more tailored restrictions on travelers from certain countries as a replacement to the controversial travel ban, according to a senior administration official. The new restrictions will vary by country. They could include a ban on travel to the United States, or new restrictions on obtaining a visa for citizens of particular countries." They are expected to be unveiled by Sunday.

Facebook Enhances Disclosure for Political Ads
5 hours ago

In a live-streamed address from Silicon Valley, Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg announced a nine-point plan that the tech giant is rolling out over coming months to respond to "efforts by nation-states and private actors to use the social media platform to influence U.S. elections." Most importantly, the company will force all advertisers to disclose what ads they're running to all audiences. “When someone buys political ads on TV or other media, they’re required by law to disclose who paid for them,” Zuckerberg said. “But you still don’t know if you’re seeing the same messages as everyone else. So we’re going to bring Facebook to an even higher standard of transparency. Not only will you have to disclose which page paid for an ad, but we will also make it so you can visit an advertiser’s page and see the ads they’re currently running to any audience on Facebook.”

Mandatory Training EPA Employees on Leaking
6 hours ago

As "part of a broader Trump administration order for anti-leaks training at all executive branch agencies," Environmental Protection Agency employees "are attending mandatory training sessions this week to reinforce their compliance with laws and rules against leaking classified or sensitive government information ... Relatively few EPA employees deal with classified files, but the new training also reinforces requirements to keep 'Controlled Unclassified Information' from unauthorized disclosure."


Welcome to National Journal!

You are currently accessing National Journal from IP access. Please login to access this feature. If you have any questions, please contact your Dedicated Advisor.