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Astroturf groups chase Senators Cochran and Wicker
Outside chicken scratch effort not likely to have any real impact

by Frank Corder
There’s a saying that if the grass looks greener on the other side, it’s probably astroturf.

We’ve seen a lot of astroturf groups in Mississippi lately. First, the labor boss backed ‘Job Keepers Alliance’ from Alabama swooped in to try and counter local grassroots efforts questioning the economic viability of the Kemper plant with the slash and burn tactics that only labor backing and anonymity can provide.

Now, there is a coordinated effort afoot from what is viewed as the “ultra” wing of the Republican party. This is the “my-way-or-the-highway”, “blow-everything-up” super minority part of the party. Oh, their goal may be worthy, but their techniques are just a tad off base.

Two groups have taken separate swipes at both Senator Roger Wicker and Senator Thad Cochran in recent days.

Wicker was targeted by a group called ForAmerica. ForAmerica is a 501c4 that is run by Brent Bozell, who is a syndicated columnist and professional conservative provocateur. They ran a low budget ad with a small buy on local TV throughout the state to try and shock.



Not to be outdone, the Senate Conservatives Fund, which seems to feature neither senators nor conservatives at least explicitly, took a swipe at Senator Cochran with an ad that’s running on talk radio.



Again, Senate Conservatives Fund was a low budget, small buy and more for shock value than anything else. They’ve also targeted other Republicans nationwide including Lamar Alexander, Lindsey Graham and Richard Burr. While local TV and talk radio may pick up a few easy bucks, this sort of astroturf effort isn’t close to having measurable results.

Any real effort to challenge Wicker or Cochran will come from in-state, not from a low budget outside group. Mississippians traditionally have not responded well to such interference from inside the Beltway anyway.

Both ForAmerica and Senate Conservatives Fund have but one message: Don’t vote on any continuing resolution at all with any funding for Obamacare. In other words, they want to shut down the government. All else politically is to be sacrificed at the alter of killing Obamacare.

Now, don’t get me wrong, Obamacare needs to be defunded. It is hugely detrimental. But shutting down the government isn’t going to help that; it may actually exascerbate the liberal side of the aisle. There are other ways to eat even that elephant.

What such groups are missing is that the caustic stand they are seeking would actually help Obama politically at a time where he remains weak. Do you remember the last battle over a government shutdown? Obama and the Democrats largely came out unscathed, while conservatives appeared as obstructionists with no real plan forward. The conservative cause cannot be successful when perception is against you (in large part because of the lack of a concerted, focused communications effort that produces legislative results).

Republicans have a real shot in 2014 of taking back the Senate in Democratic seats. A super weak Obama that’s not rescued by Republicans blowing up other Republicans could be a drag on a Hillary Clinton ticket and put Republicans back in the White House in 2016, and no conservative wants to see Hillary being sworn in.

These so called “ultra” wing Republicans may have their heart in the right place but they aren't looking at the long term effects. Plus, they seem to have no real local support to speak of and no real backing other than some DC-based PACs.

And while their goal is to be bombastic and move the needle just a little further right - a noteable goal - their willingness to blow up their own house could spell another decade of bad policy with Democrat control of the Senate and White House, something America doesn't need.

Posted August 28, 2013 - 1:02 pm

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