Republicans Receive Primary Threats Over Fiscal Deal

Photograph by Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images

Speaker of the House John Boehner after the weekly House GOP caucus meeting at the U.S. Capitol on Dec. 12, 2012.

A letter to House and Senate Republicans circulating today bluntly warns that social conservatives will unite to vote them out in 2014 primary elections if they adopt President Barack Obama’s plan to raise taxes.

“Let us also remind you that a great many potent conservative organizations and millions of conservative and liberty-loving voters do not believe in the divine right of incumbents to be re-nominated,” the letter says. “Conservatives know how to recruit and support candidates.”

The two-page letter was signed by dozens of leaders of Republican-leaning groups, including For America, Let Freedom Ring, the Family Research Council and the Conservative Action Project. Foster Friess, a millionaire Wyoming investor and major Republican donor, and Republican writers such as RedState editor Erick Erickson also appear on the list.

The message was drafted by Morton Blackwell, who hosts a weekly lunch for conservative leaders and is chairman of the Leadership Institute, which trains conservatives. He also serves as Virginia representative to the Republican National Committee, according to his biography.

The RNC typically stays out of primaries.

Blackwell sent the letter Nov. 30 to House and Senate Republicans. A copy was recirculated today to members of the media.

“I know it’s having an impact,” Blackwell said of the letter. He said House and Senate Republicans have “reacted” to it, declining to name them or give specifics about what they said.

Outside groups that were active in the just-ended presidential election are wielding the hammer of 2014 primaries threats as they push their agendas on the fiscal crisis that could result in more than $600 billion in spending cuts and tax increases.

As Bloomberg News reported yesterday, Democrats aren’t immune.

“Members of Congress need to know that we are watching, and we will hold them accountable,” said Garlin Gilchrist II, national campaign director of MoveOn.org, a Democratic-leaning online organization. The “accountability” piece includes “maybe even primarying people who vote the wrong way,” he said.

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