Tom Cole dead? Not quite, but John Boehner definitely just took some advice from Bob Barker and spayed his NRCC Chair:
- The NRCC will now wade into competitive GOP primaries when appropriate. This is a significant shift, as Cole’s policy has been to stay out of such contests even when the party believes one candidate would clearly be the best general election bet. In Illinois and Louisiana in particular, Republicans suffered because they fielded a poor nominee. The race to replace retiring Rep. Vito Fossella (R) in New York, which could draw several GOP contenders, could be the first high-profile test of the new policy.
- There will be an “audit” of the three special election losses conducted by two as-yet-unnamed Republican lawmakers, designed to figure out what went wrong and how to avoid repeating those mistakes in the future. This could be an embarrassing exercise for Cole and his top staff, but they agreed to it, likely because they didn’t have a choice.
- The party will step up its efforts to establish special fundraising committees for seats with contested GOP primaries occurring late in the season, which will raise cash that will automatically go to the eventual nominees. This fairly common practice will prevent those nominees from starting the general election race at a financial disadvantage after a costly primary. This effort will be led by Rep. Pete Sessions (Texas), who lost to Cole in the race to chair the NRCC for this Congress. (Emphasis added.)
Cole is in denial mode, though, flatly contradicting Boehner by announcing that, with regard to primaries, NRCC “policy hasn’t changed. There seems to be some confusion about that.” And just to prove he’s utterly delusional, he invoked Lou Gherig:
I feel like I’m the luckiest guy in the conference to have this job.
And we feel lucky to have you, too, Tommy.