Rep. Tom Price, who ranks among the most conservative lawmakers in the U.S. House and is considered a top possible recruit to replace retiring Sen. Saxby Chambliss next year, said in a recent interview he did not object to the possibility that a new Republican super PAC may intervene in marquee Senate contests to ensure the nomination of viable general election candidates.
“Republicans ought to be in the majority in the United States Senate,” Price told the Atlanta Journal-Constitution. “We have lost seats that we should not have lost because of a failure of communication, a failure of message, a failure of coherence within campaigns.”
Price cautioned that his postmortem on Republicans’ November Senate failures–Democrats scored decisive victories in Missouri and Indiana after controversial comments by tea party candidates marginalized independent voters–was not a “slight to anyone who steps up into the ring because it’s a tough, tough arena.”
Georgia Republicans are strongly favored to retain the state’s Senate seat, but the entrance into the race by outspoken conservative Rep. Paul Broun, who fancies the president a card-carrying socialist and said the principal underpinnings of modern science were “lies straight from the pit of hell,” has drawn concern his possible nomination could spell a repeat of the last campaign season’s failures.
To prevent second acts here and elsewhere, national Republicans, led by former Bush strategist Karl Rove, announced earlier this month the formation of a super PAC to intervene in primary contests vulnerable to nominating a general election dud.
The plan was criticized by some conservatives who viewed it as a threat to tea party candidates, but Price warned that the current dynamic doesn’t bode well for recapturing the upper chamber.
“Clearly we can’t continue the same processes that we’ve had in the past and expect to increase our numbers in order to help save the country in the Senate,” he said.
Whereas national Republican operatives believe Broun’s inflammatory rhetoric may handicap the party in tough races, Price’s profile–like other possible GOP recruit Rep. Jack Kingston–is one that dually appeals to conservative activists and establishment moneymen alike.
That he offered unsolicited air cover to the Rove group, some local Republicans believe, is evidence he is still considering the race despite soft-pedaling speculation last week.
“Price wouldn’t raise a flag for national Republicans to spend money to throttle a Broun bid his unless he was still seriously weighing the race,” one Georgia GOP operative told Tipsheet. “He’s smartly telling the establishment they have a friend in him.”
- James Richardson