The king of manipulators picks horses he can ride:
Tillis, a once-obscure state House speaker, is now one of Rove’s prize horses in the national money derby; Crossroads spent more than $1.6 million on advertising boosting Tillis’ primary campaign and later unveiled a $3.6 million ad campaign attacking Hagan. “Our advertising was terrific,” Rove declared on the call, and Tillis gave credit to Crossroads for his victory, saying in his smooth drawl that the group’s “contribution can’t be overstated.”
One big problem Rove has going forward, and one reason he’s cultivating unknowns like Tillis, is that many big-name Republicans want to keep their distance from him, especially the leading 2016 candidates. Jeb Bush’s allies see Rove as an unhelpful reminder of the most toxic elements of his older brother’s legacy, according to people familiar with their thinking.
One big thing Tillis and Dubya have in common is they were pretty much a blank slate when Rove got behind them. They're okay with generalities, but when it comes to the nuts and bolts of governing, they haven't got a clue. Which is just perfect for people like Karl Rove, who thrive on setting policy from the shadows. But Tillis is playing a pretty dangerous game, which may lose him some big bucks:
Rove is projecting confidence because the establishment candidates he supports are, on the whole, beating back Tea Party challengers; the Kochs’ allies counter that their goal is less about specific elections and more about shifting the entire political conversation on fiscal issues to the right. Neither can afford to admit defeat, because that means fewer donors will come to their events next time around.
And, increasingly, it’s personal warfare: The Kochs’ operatives have come to mistrust Rove not only on ideological grounds but also because he “is trashing them for being ineffective and not team players,” as an adviser to various Koch groups told me. “They are sick of his shit and don’t really need to play nice. Basically, the relationship has just broken down.” The operative insisted that Rove’s disparaging remarks about the Koch operations have done little to win over the party’s moneyed class. “Big donors want peace and coordination, not wasteful spending and personality-driven BS.” Even a Republican finance operative who attended the Crossroads summit agreed, saying that Rove’s “trashing of different groups” was “completely counterproductive” and has “frozen up money.” (For the record, Crossroads spokesman Paul Lindsay says of the Koch groups: “We have a high regard for Freedom Partners and Americans for Prosperity.”)
Tillis probably considers himself the belle of the ball, but he might just find himself standing alone when the music stops. I have several other mixed metaphors waiting in the wings, but we'll leave it at that. ;)