Don't look now, but the war between Tea Party GOP and Country Club GOP is about to get absolutely nasty.
The U.S. Chamber of Commerce is gearing up to challenge some House Republicans in primary elections, frustrated after much of its agenda has been stymied by a small pocket of conservative GOP lawmakers.
The influential and well-heeled business group is already eyeing several races, but the plans are still in their infancy and the targets have not yet been decided upon, according to more than a half dozen Republican sources on K Street and Capitol Hill.
The group’s apparent new willingness to engage in hand-to-hand political combat to take out sitting Republicans would represent a major shift for the business community, which has largely shied away from targeting sitting lawmakers.
House GOP leadership sources say they’re unaware of and don’t support any attempt to target sitting GOP lawmakers. But the Chamber’s internal dialogue comes as House Republican leaders have struggled to maintain discipline in their ranks. Recent attempts to crack down on dissenting lawmakers have backfired.
The early discussions by top-level Chamber operatives like Rob Engstrom and Scott Reed reflect a broad consensus among companies with business before Congress that the political dynamic needs to change on Capitol Hill.
The theory is simple: The Chamber spent some $70 million in 2014, mostly to help Senate Republicans build their majority. But many of their legislative priorities — immigration reform, the renewal of the Export-Import Bank and a long-term highway bill — have been held up by a clutch of conservative lawmakers in the House.
The Tea Party was fine until the whole "shutting the government down" and "breaking the economy" thing started cutting into the bottom lines of America's biggest corporations. Going after hippies in the Democratic party was one thing. Going after corporate subsidies, transportation infrastructure used to move goods, and immigration as a source of labor, well, now that the GOP is firmly in control of Congress, suddenly it's gotten a whole lot more cost effective to replace the nutjobs.
I don't know who to root for here, but whoever wins this battle, we all lose in the end.