Republicans are confident that their efforts to protect the Senate majority will be well-funded in 2016. What they worry about is whether all that money will be spent effectively.
That question prompted top operatives connected to Majority Leader Mitch McConnell to create the Senate Leadership Fund in January. The super PAC was widely seen as an important tool that would bring order and centralization to the chaotic world of Republican political groups.
So far, it hasn’t worked out that way.
Despite the creation of a single GOP conduit focused on the Senate landscape as a whole, former aides to vulnerable Republican senators have pushed ahead with plans to create individual super PACs focused narrowly on each incumbent’s reelection. Already, onetime advisers to three of the Democratic Party’s top targets in 2016—Pat Toomey of Pennsylvania, Rob Portman of Ohio, and Kelly Ayotte of New Hampshire—have formed super PACs dedicated to helping former bosses win second Senate terms. Supporters of two more incumbents, Mark Kirk of Illinois and Richard Burr of North Carolina, are readying their own super PACs, according to sources.
That has sparked early friction with Washington-based SLF over who is best suited to look after the Senate GOP’s interests in 2016 and control the millions of dollars donors are already giving to protect the majority. Ultimately, Senate Leadership Fund and the individual PACs each regard the other as ill-equipped to tackle the challenges of tense, complicated races.