(The Hill) – Republicans in Arkansas and Nevada are telling the national GOP to stay out of their races as a pair of well-known politicians show renewed interest in running for the Senate.
Republicans in Arkansas and Nevada are telling the national GOP to stay out of their races as a pair of well-known politicians show renewed interest in running for the Senate.
In both states, a field of candidates had already been going at it for months. And not only that, the current candidates have shown leads over wounded Sens. Harry Reid (D-Nev.) and Blanche Lincoln (D-Ark.).
The potential new GOP candidates — Arkansas Rep. John Boozman and Nevada Lt. Gov. Brian Krolicki — are part of a recruiting surge that blossomed after Republican Scott Brown’s win in Massachusetts.
Former Nevada Gov. Bob List (R) told The Hill that he plans to call NRSC Chairman John Cornyn (Texas) to register his dismay.
“I’m going to encourage him to back off,” List said. “Krolicki would certainly not clear the field. All it will do is divide the party at the worst possible time.”
List said the committee hasn’t consulted the people it should have in Nevada.
“It really makes one wonder how they feel they can second-guess the people of Nevada on this,” he said. “People on the ground ought to be at least consulted.”
Sue Lowden’s campaign, which until now appeared to be the closest thing to an establishment favorite in the Nevada primary, also had some strong words for the National Republican Senatorial Committee (NRSC) and Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.), who has publicly encouraged Krolicki to join the race.
“The NRSC didn’t recruit Sue Lowden, and no senator recruited her,” Lowden campaign manager Robert Uithoven said.
“While there are some United States senators trying to influence who runs, we can say that it is Nevada voters who will decide this primary.”
Such statements have been boilerplate for outsider candidates from Florida to California to New Hampshire, where they have accused national Republicans of running interference. The GOP fields in Arkansas and Nevada appear to be headed down a similar road.
Arkansas state Sen. Gilbert Baker (R) is the early favorite in his primary and has raised the most money. But he was forced to bat back rumors this week that he might run for the House rather than the Senate if Boozman gets in, as appeared likely Wednesday.
A source close to Baker’s campaign said the NRSC needs to evaluate what Boozman’s entry would entail.
“We feel very confident that Gilbert Baker is the strongest candidate in the race, and I would hope that NRSC can see that,” the source said. “If they are continuing to recruit candidates at this late of an hour, I would ask that they would look at how this affects candidates so close to the filing deadline.”
Recruiting candidates has been a sticky situation for the NRSC ever since its support — perceived or actual — for certain candidates led to some ugly showdowns with conservatives. The committee has been tiptoeing gingerly around the process ever since.
It insists it’s not picking sides with Krolicki or Boozman, but that hasn’t been the perception. A source close to Krolicki suggested, whatever the public pronouncements, the NRSC would like Krolicki to get in.
“The NRSC does want him to run, but after Florida, they’re extremely gun-shy on primaries right now, especially one as volatile as this,” the source said. “We think the NRSC would prefer to have him in, and McCain’s endorsement is evidence of it.”
NRSC spokesman Brian Walsh said the committee is leaving things up to the voters and not getting behind any one candidate.
“Multiple Republican candidates in both races are capable of defeating them in November, and the NRSC is not endorsing in either of these races,” Walsh said.