Two of the most powerful and moneyed groups in conservative politics could be working at odds with each other during the 2012 election, leading some Republicans to worry about the GOP’s chances to take both the Senate and the White House. On one side is Karl Rove’s network, formed with fellow GOP operative Ed Gillespie; on the other, the operatives of the Koch brothers. The two groups came together for the 2010 election, but their relationship appears to be weakening, Politico reports. The first sign came this summer, when groups in the Rove-Gillespie network supported increasing the debt ceiling while Americans for Prosperity, a Koch-backed group, opposed it.
Now, the two groups have launched dueling efforts to court Hispanic voters as well as competing voter databases. Ideological differences have always been apparent—the Koch groups are more concerned with the free market and don’t mind going after Republicans at times, while those in the Rove-Gillespie network are focused on “electing Republicans for Republicans’ sake,” says one strategist. Nevertheless, they put those differences aside to run a highly-coordinated campaign last year, but insiders say that alliance may not hold for 2012. Koch intimates downplay the situation. “Overall, that competition results in a better work product and better results than a single authoritarian decision,” says one. Another adds that sometimes their “priorities aren’t aligned” with groups in the Rove-Gillespie network, but that doesn’t make it a “rivalry."