The prospect of a Republican squabble over selecting future candidates struck a nerve with MSNBC host Joe Scarborough on Monday.
“The question is, how do you sort through conservative people who are actually competent?,” he asked his “Morning Joe” panelists. “And I speak from knowledge because Newt Gingrich and the Republican establishment worked against me because they thought I was too conservative to win my district. How do you sort through it?”
The former Florida Republican congressman’s latest outburst against Gingrich was sparked by the news that American Crossroads, the political super PAC founded by another GOP player, Karl Rove, was gearing up to oppose candidates it felt were too conservative to be electable.
“I know Karl, I like Karl,” he said. “But he got pasted in this last election. And also, some conservatives have rightly brought up, he was part of the Bush administration that people like … I’ll say it, Peggy Noonan, myself, others think destroyed the conservative movement by spending us into record debt.”
American Crossroads’ “Conservative Victory Party” initiative has already been dismissed by Republican lobbying groups like Club For Growth and the Senate Conservatives Fund.
Rove’s group, Club For Growth spokesperson Barney Keller told Politico, was “welcome to support the likes of Arlen Specter, Charlie Crist and David Dewhurst. We will continue to proudly support the likes of Pat Toomey, Marco Rubio and Ted Cruz.”
The skirmishes between these factions could begin, Time magazine political analyst Mark Halperin said, with a fight over the electoral prospects of Rep. Steve King (R-IA), who is reportedly considering a run for state senate.
“If he runs in the primary, he could easily be the nominee,” Halperin said. “And his record of saying things that get him in trouble is pretty long. They just feel like, ‘We’re not gonna sacrifice that seat to another guy who could lose a general election, simply because he can’t control his mouth.”
According to Politico, a survey from a Republican polling firm found that if King runs to succeed Sen. Tom Harkin (D-IA), he would be the leading GOP candidate by 17 points, yet trail Rep. Bruce Braley (D-IA) by 5 points in a general election.
Watch Scarborough and his panel discuss the burgeoning Republican schism, aired Monday on MSNBC, below.