More than 2,000 activists packed the Crystal City Gateway Marriott this weekend for the annual "Americans for Prosperity" meeting. It is a football weekend in the most beautiful time of the fall, but these folks were in a vast ballroom on Saturday morning cheering Newt, Jim DeMint, Stephen Moore, Ed Morrissey, John Fund, Herman Cain and the always energy-and-enthusiasm generating Larry Kudlow as each in turn spelled out the details of the sharp left lurch the country has taken in the past nine months.
Americans for Prosperity was founded by, among others, David Koch and is ably guided by, among others, Tim Phillips. As Koch and Phillips chatted with guests and members throughout the morning, their confident smiles telegraphed that the surge in their membership and their reach is continuing. With a seasoned field staff and a dynamic group of young volunteers and headquarters professionals, AFP is filling a gap that exists on the right in the space between the think tanks, web portals and the GOP party apparatus. This is the sort of para-party organization that the Democrats benefited from during their wilderness years, and the appearance of a AFP as a major force in conservative circles marks a key moment in the renewal of the conservative movement.
So to does the rise of the Senate Conservatives Fund, a new PAC founded by South Carolina's DeMint. "SCF is a political action committee dedicated to electing strong conservatives to the United States Senate," the PAC's website declares. "We do not support liberal Republicans and we are not affiliated with any Republican campaign committee."
The declaration of purpose continues: "SCF seeks to bring bold conservative leadership to Washington by supporting only the most rock-solid, conservative candidates nationwide -- candidates who believe in the principles of limited government, strong national defense, and traditional family values."