The newest Republican primary election winners – whether they claim tea party credentials of GOP establishment backing – have run campaigns that found broad appeal with voters, strategist Karl Rove says.
And the party can win back the Senate if it can maintain that "united coalition," the former deputy chief of staff during the George W. Bush administration writes in a column for The Wall Street Journal
"Democrats know their most fertile ground for driving down GOP turnout will be among Republicans still angry over bitterly fought, divisive primaries," Rove writes.
"Republicans stand a much better chance of neutralizing this approach if their standard bearers enter the general election with a united coalition rather than with major elements still disgruntled after a primary that pitted faction against faction."
Rove uses the example of North Carolina House Speaker Thom Tillis' GOP primary win for the Senate.
"Some observers regarded it as 'a win for the Republican establishment over the tea party,'" Rove notes. "That's an easy story line but it's wrong."
Rove said Tillis won the primary "by knitting together the diverse coalition that makes up the Republican Party."
"Mr. Tillis won because he united most economic conservatives with significant numbers of the social conservatives, strong defense advocates and tea partiers who make up his state's GOP coalition. This puts him in a strong position to win the general election."
Rove writes other recent primary winners "also united the party," including Rep. Shelley Moore Capito in West Virginia, who "had good ties to the state's tea-party groups, a conservative record and well-honed campaign skills," and former Bush administration official Ben Sasse, who won the GOP Senate primary in Nebraska.
It's "good news" for other Senate hopefuls like Montana Rep. Steve Daines, former South Dakota Gov. Mike Rounds and Colorado Rep. Cory Gardner, "whose appeal cuts across factional lines and unites the party," he says.
"The GOP's failures in recent Senate elections tended to come from nominees who couldn't assemble the GOP coalition and conducted subpar general election campaigns," Rove writes. "This year's Senate Republican candidates appear to be uniting the party and running much better campaigns.
"All of which means Republicans stand a pretty good chance of winning the Senate if this continues."
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