A Case Study in Why Republicans Do Not Fear Conservatives

Paper tigers are desk ornaments, not cause for concern.

The primary battle for Illinois’s 16th Congressional District is a case study in why Republicans do not fear conservatives and do not take conservatives seriously in the House of Representatives.Consider, if you will, that what Jim DeMint has done in the United States Senate is make Republicans understand they might just be seriously challenged by candidates and major money if they go too far astray. After Bob Bennett went down to defeat by Mike Lee and the Republican favorite Trey Grayson went down to defeat by Rand Paul in Kentucky, suddenly Orrin Hatch became the junior partner in Utah’s conservative renaissance.The House Republican Leaders don’t much care. They do not have to. Conservatives, time and time again, will not put their money where their mouth is. They like to fight policy battles, but sit out the political fights.


Consider Illinois 16. Eric Cantor came out and endorsed Adam Kinzinger. By any measure, Manzullo is far more conservative than Kinzinger:

  • American Conservative Union lifetime scores: Manzullo 96, Kinzinger 72.
  • Club for Growth: Manzullo 85, Kinzinger 56
  • Heritage Action for America: Manzullo 84, Kinzinger 63.
  • Americans for Prosperity: Manzullo A+, Kinzinger B.
  • National Journal (conservative composite score): Manzullo 74, Kinzinger 58.

But after Cantor endorsed the squish, Republicans in the House stepped up to fund Adam Kinzinger. Manzullo has only seen Louie Gohmert and Spencer Bachus chime in on his behalf. Where is Jim Jordan? [Edit: Jordan’s staff tells me he cut a check this morning] Where is Mike Pence? Where are the other conservatives?For that matter, where is the money from the outside groups? That, in fact, is key. Outside conservative groups like to endorse, but they don’t like to cut checks.Here is a race that will go Republican and that conservatives could have for their own, but they won’t fight for it. House conservatives won’t fight their Republican brethren and outside groups don’t want to rock the boat.Other than the Club for Growth, conservatives like to fight on policy, not on politics. Conservatives will keep losing these fights on policy in the House because they aren’t willing to win the political fights that precede them. Why do House Republican Leaders need to take their conservative members seriously when the conservatives and their outside groups won’t even pony up for their own. Paper tigers are desk ornaments, not cause for concern.Conservatives in Illinois and around the nation have the chance to ensure a safe Republican seat is safely conservative. But they will need to contribute to Don Manzullo.



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