You would’ve thought that the leaders of the National Republican Senatorial Committee — the Senate GOP caucus’s in-house mechanism for supporting candidates for the upper chamber — would have learned their lesson in 2010. Rather than waiting for Republican nominees to emerge before throwing their support behind them, the NRSC intervened in primaries throughout the nation, opposing such strong conservative candidates as Florida’s Marco Rubio and Pennsylvania’s Pat Toomey. It should have been a source of public shame. Yet it doesn’t look that way, based on a report in the New York Times’ Caucus Blog:
A group of placard-waving Tea Party activists converged on the headquarters of the National Republican Senatorial Committee early Monday afternoon, demanding that its leaders refrain from supporting incumbents facing primary challenges, and serving as a reminder that the intraparty fight over party purity continues…
One reason the activists are angry with the Republican senatorial committee is that it is holding fund-raisers for [Utah Senator Orrin] Hatch — they waved signs reading “Retire Hatch.” But more generally, they want the committee to withhold political or financial support from any incumbents in the primary.
“It’s like they haven’t learned the lessons of the midterms,” said Brendan Steinhauser, an organizer for FreedomWorks who urged on the marchers.
And indeed, the committee has heard this tune before, particularly in the 2010 Florida primary for United States Senate, when the committee initially backed Charlie Crist, then a popular Republican governor, over a scrappy challenger, Marco Rubio. Mr. Rubio did so well in polls that Mr. Crist abandoned the party, ran as an independent, and lost, badly, to Mr. Rubio, a Tea Party darling.
Of the 47 Republicans currently serving in the United States Senate, none is as likely to someday become president as Marco Rubio. And his ascendancy was nearly extinguished at the hands of the NRSC. If that isn’t a sign that they shouldn’t be weighing in during primaries, it’s hard to imagine what would be.