When Republicans Attack Republicans

  • Share
  • Read Later
With their hold on the House razor thin, you'd think Republicans would be focused only on keeping Democrats from taking control in the November election. Before getting down to business, though, they have to settle a nasty squabble among conservative and moderate activists in their ranks. The Club For Growth, which calls itself a Ronald Reagan-style pro-tax cut group that raises money for conservative GOP candidates, plans to pump more than $100,000 into a Maryland primary Sept. 10 in order to oust moderate Republican Congressman Wayne Gilchrist, who's seeking a seventh term. Alarmed that their thinning ranks might get even thinner, the House Republican Main Street Partnership, made up of moderate GOP members of Congress, says it'll fight the Club dollar for dollar in Maryland.

The Club, which hopes to raise $5 million for conservative candidates in primaries, makes no apologies for spending money that might wind up bumping off moderate Republican incumbents in safe seats and effectively handing the spot to a Democrat. Its goal is to "improve the gene pool of Republicans in Congress" by electing more Reagan Republicans, says Club President Stephen Moore. Desperate to protect all their incumbents, House Republican leaders are privately furious with the genetic engineering plan. "The Club has lost track of Ronald Reagan's 11th Commandment — not to speak ill of fellow Republicans," gripes Main Street Executive Director Sarah Chamberlain Resnick. But even GOP presidents tend to ignore that commandment when it's convenient. President George W. Bush, for example, has broken it several times this year, taking sides in several GOP primaries.