More Troubles at the NRCC
by Jonathan Singer, Sun Sep 23, 2007 at 12:46:56 PM EDT
It's rough going at the National Republican Congressional Committee these days. The Democrats are lining up serious House candidates -- state legislators, businessmen, former basketball coaches... you name it -- to challenge potentially vulnerable Republican seats all over the country. At the same time, Republicans are finding it difficult to recruit candidates in even their most highly targeted races (e.g. Georgia). What's more, as of the end of August the NRCC held a $22 million deficit in relation to the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee in terms of cash-on-hand (more on that later). So it should come as little surprise, then, that there is a move afoot to oust some of the leadership of the committee, a move that could lead to the resignation of the committee chairman. The Politico's John Bresnahan and Patrick O'Connor have the story.
House Minority Leader John Boehner (R-Ohio) is trying to force out the top two staffers of the National Republican Campaign Committee -- leading to a threat of resignation from the NRCC by Chairman Tom Cole (R-Okla.) if it happens, said GOP insiders.
In a recent meeting in the Minority Leader's office, Boehner told Cole that he was displeased at how the NRCC is being run. Republican sources say Boehner wants to replace Pete Kirkham, the NRCC's executive director, and Terry Carmack, its political director, with more "aggressive" people with a more "realistic" view on next year's elections, sources said.
Boehner has not yet directly asked Cole to replace the two men, although his intention to do so is well known in House leadership circles. Cole has refused to consider the move and has privately declared "I will resign before I fire those two," said sources familiar with the dispute.
So what's this battle about? Are House Republicans actually unhappy with Cole for not running an "aggressive" enough campaign? Doesn't sound like it.
Inside-the-Beltway Republicans have grown frustrated with the NRCC for its unrealistically rosy assessments of an ever-eroding landscape for congressional Republicans.
Lawmakers are frustrated with Cole and his top aides for casting their net too wide by targeting Democratic-controlled seats that Republicans have little chance of picking up next year.
Some also gripe that Cole fails to manage expectations on the Hill when he refuses to acknowledge that the GOP's chances for regaining the majority fade with every retirement or negative news story about President Bush or scandal-plagued Republican lawmakers.
So not only are there such disagreements within the House Republican leadership that the chairman of the NRCC might not last out the entirety of his term, but the substance of the disagreement is that the chairman won't concede that his party basically has no chance of retaking the chamber. It's not a good time to be a House Republican.