Read their lips: no more Todd Akins.
In the wake of the GOP’s Election Day beatdown, influential Republican senators say enough’s enough: Party leaders need to put the kibosh on the kind of savage primaries that yielded candidates like Akin — and crippled Republican prospects of taking the Senate in two straight election cycles.
(Also on POLITICO: John Cornyn on Senate races: GOP blew it)
It’s time, they say, for Washington bosses to be more assertive about recruiting and then defending promising candidates. They argue that it’s critical to start enlisting local conservative activists as allies and to ease the tea party versus Washington dynamic that’s wreaked havoc on the party.
All easier said than done, of course. Tea party types have relished showing the chosen candidates of the Washington establishment a thing or two — and it’s hard to see them laying down arms overnight. But after a sure-bet election in 2012 turned into an electoral disaster, Republicans say resolving their primary problem is, well, their primary problem.
Now, top Republicans are considering splitting the difference between the heavy hand they wielded in 2010 that prompted sharp blowback from the right and their mostly hands-off approach of 2012. Both strategies produced a handful of unelectable candidates, so senators are gravitating toward a middle ground: engage in primaries so long as they can get some cover on the local level.
“We ought to make certain that if we get engaged in primaries that we’re doing it based on the desires, the electability and the input of people back in the states that we’re talking about,” Kansas Sen. Jerry Moran, the incoming National Republican Senatorial Committee chairman, told POLITICO. “And not from the perception of what political operatives from Washington, D.C., think about who ought to be the candidate in state X.”