Eight Republican incumbents are facing tea party primary challengers in 2014, in an increased effort to sway the GOP establishment agenda, Politico reported
The tea-party battle against the Republican establishment began in 2010. The defeat of Indiana's Dick Lugar and Utah's Bob Bennett in their 2012 primaries delivered the message that even venerable lawmakers are not immune from tea-party opposition.
Lugar's seat was ultimately taken by Democrat Joe Donnelly while Bennett's place is now held by Republican Mike Lee.
This time around veterans like Kentucky's Mitch McConnell, Mississippi's Thad Cochran, Pat Roberts of Kansas, Lindsey Graham of South Carolina, and Texas Sen. John Cornyn are among those facing insurgents from the right.
Unlike the Democratic base which takes direction from its own leadership, Republican senators have little sway over the conservative grassroots, Politico reported.
Graham characterizes the tea party challenge as a "fight for the heart and soul of the Republican Party." He says that conservatives to his right oppose cooperation with Democrat across the board.
Politico reported that faced with the threat of being tarred as insufficiently conservative, sitting Republican senators are shunning legislative compromises with the Democratic majority.
Tennessee Republican Lamar Alexander notes that most GOP incumbents are preparing for primary campaigns against Republicans rather than the general election against Democrats.
He says this burns up resources that would be better spent fighting the other party, according to Politico.
Tea-party foes are unapologetic about their strategy and some are backed by the Senate Conservatives Fund.
Dr. Milton Wolf of Kansas, a tea-party challenger backed by the Senate Conservatives Fund, is running against Roberts motivated by the conviction that the incumbent is not a true conservative.
The Senate Conservatives Fund was founded by South Carolina senator and tea party leader Jim DeMint in 2008. He is now president of The Heritage Foundation.
The fund sides with candidates who oppose abortion, favor a constitutional amendment to balance the budget without raising taxes, are against amnesty for illegal immigrants, and are in opposition to gun control.
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