If you are looking for evidence of the decline of the influence of actual people and parties in conservative politics, look no further than the current internal battle inside the New Mexico Republican Party.
State Rep. Zach Cook, a reliable conservative vote from Southeast New Mexico, lobbed the first public bomb last week with an open letter criticizing GOP State Chair John Billingsley and the outside influence of rich donors who set up a Super PAC to defeat him in the recent Republican primary in Lincoln County.
During the legislative session this year, a consultant of [NM GOP Chairman] John Billingsley’s openly bragged to Republican legislators that they were going to “primary” members who opposed Billingsley.They bragged that they had a donor who would spend whatever it takes in these primaries.When ﬁling day came around, just like Billingsley’s operative promised, I had a primary opponent. My opponent is a close friend of Billingsley, and interestingly enough, his biggest campaign donor was none other than the state party ﬁnance chair!The state party ﬁnance chair not only gave my opponent thousands of dollars, he also did exactly what Billingsley’s consultant threatened—he started a shadowy super–PAC to falsely attack me.According to public ﬁnance reports, the state party ﬁnance chair contributed over $60,000 to defeat me in the primary! – Rep. Zach Cook in a public letter.
While party officials and insiders are raising and spending money going against each other, they are apparently doing little to shore up the state party to go up against Democrats in the elections at hand. While noting that rich party insiders spent plenty of money through “shadowy” Super PACs, Cook points out that the state party has less than $25,000 on hand to support both statewide and federal campaigns.
Donation levels to the state Republican Party have sagged in recent years, and the party reported having just $16,882 in its state campaign account and $7,108 in its federal campaign account as of its most recent filings. – Albuquerque Journal, Aug. 14. 2014
On the other side, donations to SuperPACs and social welfare groups on the right have exploded. Republican-alligned PACs had more reported more than $1,000,000 in donations since the last election when the most recent finance reports were posted earlier this year. The next reports, due out at the end of August, are sure to show more.
So what’s really going on? It seems that the GOP’s old guard and those relying on the traditional party structure are fast becoming obsolete, replaced by Koch brothers-insipired conservative deep pockets ready to buy their own influence with the grassroots and elected officials willing to trade in allegiance to a Republican machine for easy money.