Election 2012 was supposed to hand Republicans control of the Senate, but thanks to candidates like Todd Akin, things didn't work out according to plan. Now, the party is scrambling to realign itself for future victories. A key strategy: Go local. "We ought to make certain that if we get engaged in primaries that we’re doing it based on the desires, the electability, and the input of people back in the states that we’re talking about," says the next head of the National Republican Senatorial Committee. "And not from the perception of what political operatives from Washington .... think about who ought to be the candidate in state X."
In 2010, operatives angered the right by pushing too hard for chosen candidates; this year, party leaders kept their distance. Party bosses may end up walking a fine line between the two strategies by promoting candidates who have garnered clear local support, Politico reports. Meanwhile, any Democratic involvement in GOP primaries should be a red flag, says Ohio Sen. Rob Portman. The NSRC didn't get involved when Claire McCaskill ran ads calling Akin "too conservative"—a move Democrats hoped would get him the nomination. "We should have at least been able to level the playing field," says Portman. Finally, "we need to do a good job of recruiting; our candidates need more training, keep their foots out of their mouth," says Sen. Jim DeMint. (Read more Todd Akin stories.)