McConnell v FreedomWorks: Gridlock

This would be a little like going after Nancy Pelosi.

The way the Tea Party-aligned FreedomWorks is going after the Republican Party’s congressional leaders begs the question of what happens if the party wins control of Congress.

Already, House Speaker John Boehner has faced the ire of FreedomWorks for settling on a spending agreement with the Democrats last year. Boehner, an Ohio Republican, lashed out at groups within his party which he accused of standing for nothing but gridlock.

“Speaker Boehner’s real problem here isn’t with conservative groups like FreedomWorks, it’s with millions of individual Americans who vote Republican because they were told the GOP was the party of small government and fiscal responsibility,” Matt Kibbe, president of FreedomWorks, said in a statement as the war was getting underway.

“Once again Republicans, led by John Boehner, are working with Democrats to increase spending yet again on the taxpayers’ tab while promising ‘savings’ down the road,” Kibbe said. “We know how this movie ends.”

And now FreedomWorks is lashing out at Sen. Mitch McConnell, the Kentucky Republican who stands to lead the Senate if his party picks up six seats in November — a prospect whose chances appear to be growing by the month.

This is the “moderate Republican” McConnell, FreedomWorks notes in a critique of the senator’s latest campaign ad.

McConnell maintains that his brand is “conservative leadership.”

Never mind that McConnell’s Republican rival, Matt Bevin, stands next to no chance of unseating the five-term senator in the party’s May 20 primary — trailing by 32 percent in the last averaging of polls there. FreedomWorks has aligned itself with the Tea Party and against some of the Republican Party’s staunchest conservatives, such as Rep. Pete Sessions of Texas.

The group organized eight years ago by former House Majority Leader Dick Armey of Texas, who since has left it, allied with other Tea Party groups against one of the most esteemed members of the Senate, Richard Lugar, only to “primary” him with an unelectable Republican.

Which again raises the question of what happens if the party wins control of both chambers of Congress in January, with conservative forces within the party rejecting its own House and Senate leaders.

It reminds us of Democratic Sen. Sherrod Brown’s comments about his fellow Ohioan.

“Boehner wakes up every day and he’s got to decide, is he speaker of the House of Representatives, or is he speaker of the Tea Party?”’ Brown has said of Boehner. “When he’s speaker of the Tea Party, nothing happens.”

The formula for failure could be rooted within the party’s own divisions.


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