More battle lines drawn in Rove vs. Tea Party

The Tea Party Patriots have launched a super PAC and are tying themselves to Steve King in Iowa

By Jillian Rayfield

Published February 12, 2013 10:32PM (EST)

Rep. Steve King (Wikimedia/Gage Skidmore)
Rep. Steve King (Wikimedia/Gage Skidmore)

Armed with a new super PAC, the Tea Party Patriots are lining up behind a potential Senate run by Rep. Steve King, in response to an American Crossroads initiative to crush super-conservative candidates.

King, R-Iowa, invited the group's co-founder Jenny Beth Martin to be his guest at the State of the Union on Tuesday. And, the Hill reports, "an official familiar with the plans of the new TPP super-PAC, Tea Party Patriots Citizens Fund, says the group is looking to engage in the upcoming Iowa Senate race in favor of King."

Though King has not officially announced a run yet, he is an early front-runner in the race to replace retiring Sen. Tom Harkin, D-Iowa, in 2014.

The TPP super PAC was launched earlier this week  as a counterweight to the Conservative Victory Fund, an effort by the Karl Rove-backed American Crossroads to enlist GOP mega-donors to help ensure that candidates like Todd Akin or King don't make it through the primaries.

Steven Law, the president of American Crossroads, specifically mentioned King as a potential target for the new initiative. “We’re concerned about Steve King’s Todd Akin problem,” Law told the New York Times. “This is an example of candidate discipline and how it would play in a general election. All of the things he’s said are going to be hung around his neck.”

“He sounds like he’s challenging us, and we’re ready to rise to the challenge,” Martin said of Rove, telling the Hill that she will be "engaging with the donors over the next several weeks to let them know what we’re doing and to show them that we can do what the Republican Party is not doing right now, which is building a ground game."

This is the type of move that caused Nate Silver to wonder on Monday if Rove's efforts could wind up doing more harm than good for the establishment:

Mr. Rove’s efforts could backfire, therefore, if they result in the insurgent candidate receiving more sympathetic treatment through these channels; the amount of so-called “earned media” that the insurgent receives could outweigh the extra advertisements that the establishment candidate is able to afford.

A related problem is that the insurgent candidates could seek to raise money directly in response to moves by Conservative Victory Project, as Mr. King of Iowa is attempting to do. This could be the case especially when insurgent candidates were otherwise having trouble raising funds.

Indeed, King sent out an email last week fundraising off of Rove's efforts, telling supporters: “Nobody can bully me out of running for the U.S. Senate, not even Karl Rove and his hefty war chest.”

Jillian Rayfield

Jillian Rayfield is an Assistant News Editor for Salon, focusing on politics. Follow her on Twitter at @jillrayfield or email her at

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Related Topics ------------------------------------------

2014 Elections American Crossroads Karl Rove Steve King Tea Party Tea Party Patriots