GOP Senate Challengers Attack Rivals Recruited by National Republican Party, in Some Cases Pushing Candidates Rightward
Underdogs trying to ride a wave of anti-establishment fervor are mounting challenges to the Republican Party's hand-picked Senate candidates in several states.
The trend suggests that conservative surges in a New York House race and a Senate primary in Florida were not isolated incidents and pose a dilemma for the GOP. Party leaders have stopped endorsing candidates, and in some cases establishment candidates have shifted to the right.
Challengers are seizing on the fact that their rivals were recruited by the National Republican Senatorial Committee, the party organization that finds and vets candidates. They are presenting such links as evidence of coziness with party leaders unpopular with conservatives for supporting Wall Street bailouts and other spending programs.
The Club for Growth, a pro-business group that runs ads backing fiscal conservatives in Republican primaries, has jumped into the Florida contest to endorse former state legislator Marco Rubio, who is running against NRSC-endorsed Gov. Charlie Crist.
The challengers have created a dilemma for Sen. John Cornyn of Texas, who is running the NRSC's election efforts. He is defending open seats vacated by retiring senators in the four perennial battlegrounds of Ohio, Missouri, Florida and New Hampshire.
He began recruiting when Democrats were on the rise nationally. Then, GOP leaders wanted candidates who could appeal to independents and Democratic voters.
In the wake of the New York congressional race, in which a conservative candidate drove the official Republican from the contest, Mr. Cornyn said the NRSC wouldn't spend money in any primary. Aides say any additional endorsements are unlikely.