Scott bet on a red tide. So he just used the committee to build up his own brand. Pocketed the money basically. Congrats to all who celebrate. https://t.co/1lJjk07g1e
— Josh Marshall (@joshtpm) September 1, 2022
#MoscowMitch McConnell is an old-school political grifter — the kind of man who’s willing to spend decades sucking up to donors in return for a steady, slow growth in his own political influence and personal fortune. Rick Scott, on the other hand, didn’t make his millions waiting for others to unlock the cash register — he jumped right in there with a crowbar and stole everything he could grab.
Right now, Republican prospects in November look distinctly less hopeful than they did at the beginning of the year, so… per the NYTimes:
The Senate’s Republican campaign chief on Thursday appeared to escalate an ugly quarrel with the party’s longtime leader in the chamber, Senator Mitch McConnell, in the latest sign of the G.O.P.’s eroding confidence about winning back the majority in November.
Without naming Mr. McConnell, Senator Rick Scott of Florida, the chairman of the National Republican Senatorial Committee, lashed out in a blistering opinion piece in The Washington Examiner at Republicans he said were “trash-talking” the party’s candidates, an apparent reference to comments last month in which Mr. McConnell said that “candidate quality” could harm the G.O.P.’s chances of retaking the Senate. Mr. Scott called such remarks “treasonous” and said those who make them should “pipe down.”…
Speaking to reporters in his home state last month, Mr. McConnell conceded that Republicans had a stronger chance of winning back control of the House than the Senate in November.
“Senate races are just different — they’re statewide, candidate quality has a lot to do with the outcome,” he said at a Chamber of Commerce lunch in Florence, Ky. The comment was widely interpreted to reflect Mr. McConnell’s growing concern about Republicans’ roster of Senate recruits, which includes several candidates who have been endorsed by former President Donald J. Trump and appear to be struggling in competitive races.
The intraparty feuding comes at a fraught moment for Mr. McConnell, who once boasted of being “100 percent focused” on stymieing President Biden’s agenda and appeared confident of his chance to reclaim the mantle of Senate majority leader given Democrats’ tiny margin of control. Those aspirations have dimmed substantially of late as Democrats have racked up a series of legislative accomplishments and Republican candidates have foundered in key contests…
Privately, some Senate campaign operatives have savaged Mr. Scott, saying they were befuddled by his decision to embark last month on an Italian yacht vacation at the same time that the committee was pulling television reservations in critical states, signaling it was losing hope of victories there. The trip was reported by Axios.
Mr. Scott has been at odds with Mr. McConnell since Mr. Scott released his “11-Point Plan to Rescue America,” presenting it as a policy platform for the midterm elections. Mr. McConnell emphatically rejected the plan, telling reporters, “We will not have as part of our agenda a bill that raises taxes on half the American people and sunsets Social Security and Medicare within five years.”…
Allahpundit, from inside the GOP fortress: Rick Scott: Certain people who shall remain nameless should stop trash-talking our Senate candidates
… There are three reasons why the Scott/McConnell tension is worth watching. First, there’s history here. Scott pissed off McConnell and other Republicans when he insisted on publishing his own policy agenda for the midterms earlier this year. McConnell’s strategy has been not to offer any agenda to midterm voters, believing that that will help turn the election into a referendum on Biden and the Democrats. If voters go into the booth thinking about inflation and Afghanistan, Republicans will have a good night. If they go in there wondering if they prefer Biden’s policies to the Republican alternative, that could get dicey. McConnell’s worries were confirmed when Dems pounced on some of the recommendations in Scott’s plan, accusing him and the GOP of wanting to slash Social Security and Medicare and to force seniors who currently pay no federal income tax to pony up. Which led to this extremely cringy scene in March. Looks like there’s bad blood now.
Second, Scott isn’t just any Republican senator. He’s the chair this year of the NRSC, the group responsible for getting Republican candidates elected to the Senate. If the GOP flames out, the NRSC will be blamed. And if the NRSC is blamed, Scott will be blamed. The NRSC has already taken flak for burning through most of its war chest this cycle, leaving it with $28.5 million in the bank at the end of June compared to $53.5 million for its Democratic counterpart. The cash crunch led to the group dialing back ad spending in some key races this fall and an urgent plea from the head of the RNC to major donors to chip in soon before the Senate slips away. “People are asking, ‘What the hell is going on?’” said one GOP strategist to Politico about the disappearing ads. “Why are we cutting in August? I’ve never seen it like this before.” Meanwhile, Scott was recently caught vacationing on a yacht in Italy instead of hunkering down for the fight ahead. (I wonder who could have leaked that news to the media.) If GOP candidates in swing states get outspent by the Dems (very likely) and end up falling just short (increasingly plausible), fingers will point at Scott. So here he is pointing his own finger at McConnell in advance for having supposedly demoralized conservatives with his criticism or whatever.
Third, Scott has been touted as a potential challenger to McConnell to lead the GOP caucus…
BREAKING: Another expose drops!
Non paywall link for those who need to gloat
— Madhav Mehra (@OldMehra) September 3, 2022
… The National Republican Senatorial Committee has long been a critical part of the party apparatus, recruiting candidates, supporting them with political infrastructure, designing campaign strategy and buying television ads.
By the end of July, the committee had collected a record $181.5 million — but had already spent more than 95 percent of what it had brought in. The Republican group entered August with just $23.2 million on hand, less than half of what the Senate Democratic committee had ahead of the final intense phase of the midterm elections.
Now top Republicans are beginning to ask: Where did all the money go?
The answer, chiefly, is that Mr. Scott’s enormous gamble on finding new online donors has been a costly financial flop in 2022, according to a New York Times analysis of federal records and interviews with people briefed on the committee’s finances. Today, the N.R.S.C. is raising less than before Mr. Scott’s digital splurge…
One fund-raising scheme used by the Senate committee, which has not previously been disclosed, involved sending an estimated millions of text messages that asked provocative questions — “Should Biden resign?” — followed by a request for cash: “Reply YES to donate.” Those who replied “YES” had their donation processed immediately, though the text did not reveal in advance where the money was going.
Privately, some Republicans complained the tactic was exploitative. WinRed, the party’s main donation-processing platform, recently stepped in and took the unusual step of blocking the committee from engaging in the practice, according to four people familiar with the matter…
For months last year, the National Republican Senatorial Committee was far and away the nation’s biggest online political advertiser, outspending every other party committee combined and pouring money into platforms like Google at levels almost unseen except in the fevered final days of 2020.
The sums were so breathtakingly large — peaking at more than $100,000 a day on Facebook and Google — that some concerned Democrats began to study the ads, fretting that somehow Republicans had unlocked a new sustainable way to raise money online.
They had not.
The Senate Republican bet had been this: By spending vast amounts early, the party could vacuum up contact information for millions of potential donors who could then give repeatedly over the coming months.
The internal budget document showed the shortcomings of the approach. The first month of outreach investment, June 2021, was projected to generate $3.2 million for the committee by November 2022. But the other $22 million in investments over the next seven months combined were projected to add up to a narrow net loss by Election Day…
Though the committee exists chiefly to help Republican Senate candidates, under Mr. Scott it has only occasionally leveraged its enlarged email list to fund-raise directly for them. And when it does, the fine print indicates the N.R.S.C. keeps 90 percent of the proceeds…
Lots of seamy details laid out — worth reading the whole thing, especially if you appreciate a good true-crime narrative.
As someone pointed out the RNC thought Rick Scott would steal for them not FROM them.
— Mª®t¡ñ Pմʝძმƙ 🇨🇦🇵🇱 (@MartinPujdak) September 3, 2022
Speaking of true crime tales — #MoscowMitch is also taking flak from a certain high-profile venture capitalist, per the Washington Post — Peter Thiel rebuffs Mitch McConnell over Senate rescue in Arizona
… Thiel, a co-founder of the payment processor PayPal and the first outside investor in Facebook, bucked left-leaning Silicon Valley by betting big on Trump in 2016. Last summer and fall, the tech entrepreneur contributed to a wide range of pro-Trump congressional candidates, igniting hopes among some Republicans that he was positioning himself to become a megadonor on the scale of libertarian brothers David and Charles Koch, or former New York mayor Mike Bloomberg, who has given millions in recent years to Democratic candidates and causes. But Thiel has told associates that he has no plans to spend more this cycle — and that his aim was to elevate younger Republican candidates who would mark a sharp break from the party’s neoconservative wing, not to engage in a tit-for-tat spending war with Democrats…
McConnell told Thiel over the phone last week that Vance’s race in Ohio was proving more costly for the Senate Leadership Fund than anticipated, that money was not unlimited and that there was a need for the billionaire to “come in, in a big way, in Arizona,” as a person familiar with the conversation described his words. Law, in a call with Thiel the day before his group cut back on the Arizona ads, expressed concern about Masters as a candidate and pessimism about his campaign’s viability. Both Vance, 38, and Masters, 36, are friends and former business associates of Thiel’s; Masters stepped down from roles at Thiel’s investment firm and foundation this year.
The message from McConnell and Law, according to people with knowledge of their pitch, was that they should essentially split the cost, with Thiel cutting a check to their super PAC matching whatever funds they put behind Masters. Another option, these people said, was that the Thiel-funded super PAC could take over the ad reservations initially made by the McConnell-linked group….
McConnell previously expressed dissatisfaction with Thiel’s move to bankroll independent super PACs backing Vance and Masters, telling the billionaire investor last year that his money would go further if he gave it to the Senate Leadership Fund, which “can put some real lead on the target,” recalled a person familiar with the exchange.
In last week’s call with McConnell, Thiel argued that Vance and Masters have not criticized the Republican leader, unlike other GOP primary candidates, which drew a dissent. “That’s not true at all,” McConnell replied, according to a person with knowledge of his comments, though he added, “I’m not into revenge. That’s Mr. Trump.”
During his primary, Masters called for McConnell to be replaced as GOP leader, expressing his support for Sens. Josh Hawley (R-Mo.) and Tom Cotton (R-Ark.). “I’ll tell Mitch this to his face,” Masters said during a debate in June. “He’s not bad at everything. He’s good at judges. He’s good at blocking Democrats. You know what he’s not good at? Legislating.” Vance has also offered a dim view of McConnell, calling him “a little out of touch with the base” and saying it was time for “new blood.”…
…Thiel’s gambit is very redolent of the standard VC play. It’s sort of a question why Thiel isn’t picking up the tab for these guys in the general. After all, at his level of wealth funding a senate campaign isn’t a huge lift. But why should he pay? After he made Masters and Vance the nominees McConnell and the GOP generally simply had no choice. What are they going to do? Surrender the senate seats to spite Thiel? Of course not. By getting them the nominations Thiel’s hand picked candidates became the only path to the majority. It’s rather ingenious actually. Fund them in their start up phase and then leave it to others to get them through the really hard part. McConnell is left playing the part of the legacy corporation now saddled with a high priced startup that wasn’t all that it appeared.
What may be complicating things is that Masters is doing really, really badly. He’s a bad candidate. Dobbs has hurt him. Mark Kelly is significantly ahead of Masters and has been comfortably around 50% for a while. Unlike Vance, pouring money into Masters campaign certainly looks like throwing good money after bad. So McConnell and his Senate leadership campaign may be ready to cut him loose and focus on really critical races in Georgia, Ohio, Wisconsin, North Carolina and Nevada. Maybe that’s why there’s an argument at all.
Regardless, give Thiel some credit for thinking how to apply some of the logic of the VC world to the electoral realm.
We’re still required to keep fighting every step of the way, but I personally enjoy watching the GOP Death Cult set up their very own circular firing squad. Couldn’t happen to a more deserving mob!