This election cycle could herald all-out war between far-right conservatives and the Republican establishment. Empowered by their success in pushing the GOP candidate out of the race in New York’s 23rd District, tea party activists and their allies plan to launch primary challenges against more than a dozen GOP candidates, Politico reports. Top Senate contenders like Charlie Crist, Rob Simmons, and Mark Kirk, and even some incumbents, like Utah’s Bob Bennett, are in their sights.
“I would say it’s the tip of the spear,” says Dick Armey, now head of a group that works with tea party organizers. “What you’re going to see is moderates and conservatives across the country in primaries.” The challengers promise to be well-funded, and the party fears they’ll push the party too far right to win. “It can get very, very ugly,” says a former NRCC chair.