Conservative leaders are eager to turn Tea Party anger into election-year cash – and to do that, they’re launching a flurry of new political action committees aimed at collecting small-dollar donations from newly engaged anti-tax, anti-spending activists.
The latest entrant: Take Back America PAC, to be launched this week by FreedomWorks, the conservative group and Tea Party leader run by former House Republican leader Dick Armey.
Armey said the goal of the new PAC is “to show that if Republicans pick their candidates with a message of restraint of big government and respect for individual liberty, it will translate into electoral success. If they don’t do that, they will probably get what I will call ‘gentle reminders’ from all of the grassroots activists in their districts that they need to be a lot more like Reagan Republicans or they can expect that they might lose their own primary.”
The PAC, which plans to support conservative Republicans Marco Rubio and Pat Toomey in Senate primaries in Florida and Pennsylvania, respectively, is also considering supporting Rand Paul’s GOP Senate campaign in Kentucky — and opposing the reelection bids of Democratic Sens. Harry Reid, the Senate majority leader, in Nevada and Chris Dodd in Connecticut.
When Take America Back sends out its first fundraising email this week to FreedomWorks’ 415,000 online members, it will join a crowded and growing field of campaign vehicles vying for Tea Partiers’ donations.
The Liberty First PAC was officially launched last week by early Tea Party organizer Eric Odom. GrassRootsPAC, a new project organized partly by the president of the Tea Party-linked American Majority organizing group, is planning a hard rollout next year. And the California-based Our Country Deserves Better PAC–TeaPartyExpress.org, added the “TeaPartyExpress.org” to its name in October after raking in big bucks for an eponymous cross-country bus tour.
The common goal of the groups is to transform the Tea Party movement into something of a conservative answer to MoveOn.org, a mechanism for bringing in huge numbers of small checks to help elect small-government fiscal conservatives and to defeat incumbents supportive of the big-money initiatives pushed by President Obama and his allies in the Democratic Congress.
But the sudden emergence of so many groups has raised concerns among activists about dissipating the energy behind the already fractured Tea Party movement, and has buoyed Democratic hopes that the Tea Party movement will spark a Republican civil war, resulting in bloody primaries that will leave the GOP limping into the 2010 midterm elections with damaged or fringe candidates.
Armey dismissed suggestions of an “internecine conflict within the Republican Party” as “simply inaccurate. That’s like saying that Methodists who disagree with Presbyterians are fomenting a war inside the Presbyterian Church.”
But the Methodists never had an army quite like this.
On Monday evening, the grassroots umbrella group Tea Party Patriots is set to hold a conference call with local organizers across the country to discuss plans to form its own PAC, while the upstart Tea Party Nation, a for-profit company, intends to use any profits it generates from the national Tea Party convention it’s organizing in February to fund a so-called 527 organization that would air ads supporting candidates who embrace the movement’s ideals.