You could be the next Ted Cruz: That’s the message the Senate Conservatives Fund sent to supporters Friday morning in an email titled “New Leaders Needed.”
In what was essentially a “we’re hiring” notice, the political action committee started by South Carolina Sen. Jim DeMint asked donors to “please think about whether you or someone you know should run for public office.”
“I know it may sound like a crazy idea, but the only way we’re going to save this country is if principled, smart, honest, and humble Americans answer the call and toss their hats into the ring,” Matt Hoskins, the PAC’s executive director wrote. “Our principles are true and they’re timeless, but we need new faces and new energy to continue to strengthen the conservative movement.”
The plea is part of an ongoing debate inside the Republican Party about running less-experienced grassroots candidates. Losing Senate candidates like Todd Akin and Richard Mourdock in 2012, and Sharron Angle and Christine O’Donnell in 2010, drew post-election fire from some Republicans for being undisciplined and not “staying on message.”
More experienced candidates, those contrarians argue, would know not to wade into such thorny policy areas as rape and abortion in an election decided by the economy.
The Senate Conservatives Fund was vocal in supporting conservative candidates, including Akin and Mourdock, during the 2012 election. The PAC frequently blasted the “Republican establishment” and “corporate welfare” groups like the U.S. Chamber of Commerce for backing more moderate Senate hopefuls.
It successfully backed first-time candidates Rand Paul from Kentucky, Mike Lee from Utah and Ron Johnson from Wisconsin in 2010.
Hoskins included a map of each 2014 Senate race in the email on Friday and asked supporters to make suggestions about who should run.
“As you know, we have very strict standards for our endorsements — especially in a Republican primary,” he wrote. “We vet each candidate to make sure they’re true conservatives and have what it takes to run a strong campaign.”
“It’s why 5 of the 8 candidates we helped nominate in 2010 and 2 of the 3 candidates we helped nominate in 2012 were elected — even though they were up against near-impossible odds.”
In the 2012 general election, the DeMint-founded PAC endorsed Josh Mandel in Ohio, Ted Cruz in Texas, Jeff Flake in Arizona, Richard Mourdock in Indiana, Deb Fischer in Nebraska, George Allen in Virginia, Tom Smith in Pennsylvania, Dan Bongino in Maryland and Todd Akin in Missouri.
Of those nine candidates, Cruz, Flake and Fischer won.