Published March 18, 2013
The Republican Party is working with Silicon Valley investors on a venture, backed by political strategist Karl Rove, to create a digital platform for targeting voters and donors, an effort that is adding to tensions between the party's establishment and its insurgent wings.
The talks on a new technology effort come as the Republican National Committee prepares to roll out an overall blueprint Monday for reviving the GOP after last year's losses. As part of that effort, the RNC, the party's main campaign arm, is trying to make up ground on the digital front against Democrats, who proved far more tech-savvy during the 2012 campaign.
The Silicon Valley venture, led by former Bain & Co. executive and private-equity investor Richard Boyce, with Sun Microsystems co-founder Scott McNealy serving as an adviser, is part of a core team working with the RNC to develop a central digital campaign tool that all Republican candidates and organizations can use in future elections.
The venture has won a prominent backer in Mr. Rove, the former White House adviser, who presented the group's plans last month to a who's who of Republican campaign groups. Among those attending the Feb. 26 rollout were senior representatives of the RNC, the National Republican Senatorial Committee and top aides from several congressional offices, according to several participants.
But the effort already is exacerbating tensions among conservatives who have grown distrustful of both the party and the core cadre of longtime advisers they blame for last year's campaign failures. Mr. Rove is forming a new political-action committee designed to identify and support Republican candidates it views as most electable, which has angered conservative activists who have been working to unseat incumbent GOP senators and House members that they view as too moderate.
Infighting over whom to entrust with the party's data mirrors the divisions between establishment GOP organizations—among them the RNC and American Crossroads, the super PAC founded with Mr. Rove's involvement—and more insurgent-minded groups and figures, such as the Heritage Foundation, the Club for Growth and Republican Sens. Ted Cruz of Texas and Rand Paul of Kentucky.