The GOP has yet another message problem on their hands.
Two candidates the National Republican Senatorial Committee has recruited for 2010 are at odds with the anti-stimulus opposition being put forth by the Republican National Committee.
While RNC operatives busy themselves compiling reports of government waste tucked inside President Obama's stimulus bill and issuing hard-hitting talking points against it, they're being undermined by their Senate fundraising arm.
It appears the RNC is attempting to win elections based on principle while the NRSC is more concerned with who may be electable, a classic political clash. The top example is the NRSC's support for the popular Florida Governor Charlie Crist. NRSC Chairman Sen. John Cornyn endorsed Mr. Crist over the more fiscally conservative Republican Marc Rubio earlier this year, outraging many conservatives.
The same scenario is playing out again, this time in New Hampshire. When New Hampshire Attorney General Kelly Ayotte, another high-polling Republican, announced she was resigning from her post to begin exploring bid for the U.S. Senate, the NRSC immediately issued a statement calling her a "formidable candidate for the U.S. Senate if she decides to run" — a strong indication they would be likely to support her once her candidacy is declared. They also e-mailed conservative bloggers items promoting flattering things political reporters had written about her.
But, like Mr. Crist, she doesn't appear to be much of a fiscal conservative, either.
>From her post as attorney general, Mrs. Ayotte encouraged New Hampshire's justice system to apply and obtain stimulus money, saying "in times of economic uncertainty and with the potential for increasing crime, we need to continue to support these programs." Her number two, Deputy Attorney Orville "Bud" Fitch, has been in charge of doling out stimulus dollars as head of New Hampshire's new "Office of Economic Stimulus." At that post, he acted as the state's "stimulus czar."
If she does harbor any opposition to the stimulus, she hasn't told anyone. Reporters have complained she's been vague when asked directly about the bill, much in the same way Republican candidate Jim Tedisco was in his failed special election bid for New York's 20th District last fall. His reluctance to make his support for opposition to the bill clear is credited as a key reason for his loss by many election watchers.
Many race watchers view Mrs. Ayotte as moderate, and compare her to other senators who voted for the stimulus like Sens. Susan Collins and Olympia Snowe, both of Maine.
Meanwhile, there are other Republicans may challenge Mrs. Ayotte in the GOP primary, like former Rep. Charlie Bass and 1996 Republican gubernatorial nominee Ovide Lamontage. And another one, named Fred Tausch, even founded a group based on his upset with government spending. He created Save the Economy Without Accumulating Debt to demand more fiscal responsibility after passage of the stimulus bill.
But the NRSC appears to have already picked their favored candidate. Mr. Lamontage traveled to Washington last June to discuss his candidacy, but the NRSC remained silent about his bid, unlike when Mrs. Ayotte announced she was ready to begin exploring her Senate run.