Yet another group joins the party

YET ANOTHER GROUP JOINS THE PARTY…. About a year before the 2008 election, many leading conservatives decided that what Republicans really needed were a plethora of organizations like MoveOn.org. So, groups were formed en masse. Freedom’s Watch, the Coalition for a Conservative Majority, The Vanguard, Victory Caucus, some odd Gingrich outfit, FreedomWorks, Reagan 21, Move America Forward, and a revitalized Citizens For The Republic all got to work.

They failed rather spectacularly. None of these groups had any significant impact on the elections, and nearly all have since disappeared.

In 2009, many leading conservatives decided that what Republicans still needed were a plethora of organizations. As Dave Weigel noted last May, groups like the Center for Republican Renewal, Renewing American Leadership, Resurgent Republic, and the National Council for a New America (the so-called “rebranding” initiative), among others, all hoped to help Republicans thrive. As 2010 gets underway, few of these names will sound familiar even to the most well-informed political observers, and some of the groups have already disbanded.

But the drive to create new groups continues.

At least half a dozen leaders of the Republican Party have joined forces to create a new political group with the goal of organizing grass-roots support and raising funds ahead of the 2010 midterm elections, according to people familiar with the effort.

The organizational details of the group, expected to be called the American Action Network, are still being worked out, but it is expected to contain both a 501(c)3 and a 501(c)4 component. In simpler terms, a 501(c)3 can advocate on policy matters while a 501(c)4 is an election arm.

Republican leaders expected to be affiliated with the group include former Minnesota Sen. Norm Coleman, former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush, Mississippi Gov. Haley Barbour, former Bush adviser Karl Rove, Republican strategist Ed Gillespie, and Republican donor Fred Malek.

Some of these exact same GOP heavy-hitters were supposed to help shape the “re-branding” campaign last year, before it fell apart. How will the American Action Network succeed where the National Council for a New America failed? Who knows — it’s still very much unclear what these guys want to do, what they’re going to do, and why anyone should care.

But I continue to question the model itself. Organizing grass-roots support makes sense; organizing grass-roots support from the top-down — led by Bush, Rove, and Gillespie — makes far less sense.