Two conservative groups founded last year with the help of Republicans Karl Rove and Ed Gillespie have set a goal of raising $120 million in the effort to defeat President Barack Obama, win a GOP majority in the Senate and protect the party’s grip on the House in the 2012 election.
That effort comes as Democratic groups are promising to raise tens of millions of dollars for their own independent advertising effort to help Mr. Obama win a second term. The arms race could result in a record level of spending on the 2012 campaign.
If the conservative groups meet the target disclosed to The Wall Street Journal, they would establish their organizationsâAmerican Crossroads and Crossroads GPSâas possibly the largest force in the 2012 campaign, aside from the presidential candidates themselves and the political parties.
American Crossroads and its sister group helped conservative groups reach parity in the 2010 elections with labor unions and other Democratic-leaning groups that for years had led in campaign fund raising.
When Messrs. Rove and Gillespie helped launch the groups last year, they hoped to raise $52 million. They exceeded their goal by raising $71 million in the 29 weeks between opening their doors until the election. That made them the second-largest source of campaign spending other than candidates and political parties. The largest was the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees, which spent more than $90 million during the 2009-10 campaign.