The battle for the soul of the Republican party is getting nastier following the launch of a new effort by some wealthy donors to strike back at ideologically driven activists– including conservative billionaires – who have steered the party to the far right.
A new fundraising group spearheaded by Karl Rove, the former top adviser to George W. Bush, called the Conservative Victory Project is aiming to prevent "poor quality candidates" from winning Republican primaries and then losing against Democrats. A spokesman for the group said that the elevation of candidates like Todd Akin and Richard Mourdock, who lost Senate bids to Democrats last year following controversial remarks about rape and abortion, have cost Republicans five to seven Senate seats over the years.
The effort, which is seen as helping more traditional and mainstream Republicans fend off conservative challengers, will ultimately pit wealthy donors to Mr Rove's group against wealthy activists at the Club for Growth and other organisations who have made it their mission to rid the Republican party of politicians they say are not conservative enough and replace them with hardliners.
"This has nothing to do with message and everything to do with quality of the candidates. And our solution to this is to identify candidates, the most conservative possible,that can win primaries and general elections well," said Jonathan Collegio, a spokesman for Conservative Victory Project.