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  1. #1
    Super Moderator Newmexican's Avatar
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    Tea partiers line up to tackle GOP senators Read more:

    Tea partiers line up to tackle GOP senators

    12/10/13 9:10 PM EST

    GOP senators have aggressively tried to keep their conservative base at bay to ensure there’s virtually no space on their right for a primary foe to emerge.

    That didn’t work so well.

    Republican primary challengers are lining up to take on sitting senators next year in eight of the 12 races involving sitting GOP senators, gunning for party leaders like Mitch McConnell in Kentucky, veterans like Thad Cochran in Mississippi and Pat Roberts in Kansas and deal-makers like Lindsey Graham in South Carolina. Texas Sen. John Cornyn became the latest target this week, when a fiercely conservative congressman, Steve Stockman, suddenly announced plans to challenge the Senate’s second-ranking Republican in next March’s primary.

    “I think it’s pretty thin gruel,” Cornyn said of Stockman’s case for his candidacy: that the senator didn’t fight hard enough to defund Obamacare.

    The intraparty battles are the latest iteration of the tea party-versus-establishment war that has rocked the Republican Party since the 2010 elections and thwarted their efforts to retake the majority. After watching two sitting senators — Dick Lugar of Indiana and Bob Bennett of Utah — lose to insurgent candidates in the last two cycles, tea party-backed candidates are looking to repeat their luck in 2014 and fundamentally reshape the Senate. The threat of a challenge alone has implications for policymaking in Washington: It is enough to scare off attempts by many GOP senators to cut deals with Democrats and risk a revolt from the right.

    While many of the GOP senators facing primary threats hold safe Republican seats, party veterans fear the endless internecine warfare will distract from the overall goal of returning to the Senate majority for the first time since 2006.

    Graham, who has seen his poll numbers sag back home, called the primary battles a “fight for the heart and soul of the Republican Party,” arguing that hard-line conservatives are targeting “anyone who has ever worked with a Democrat on anything.”

    “The party is going through a struggle here,” Graham added.

    After watching a 36-year-veteran like Lugar lose handily in his primary last year, most Senate Republicans have taken the warnings seriously, methodically building massive campaign war chests and locking down support from the biggest threats to their seats.

    Take Sen. Lamar Alexander. Less than a month after the November 2012 elections, the veteran Tennessee Republican announced a lineup of GOP heavyweights to co-chair his 2014 campaign, including virtually every member in the House delegation and the sitting governor, Bill Haslam. When potential foes emerged, including health care executive Monty Lankford, Alexander quietly dropped by Lankford’s house to build a relationship and secure his support.

    But that doesn’t mean Alexander is completely in the clear. While he lacks any serious primary foe so far, he’s facing a trio of challengers right now, meaning he’ll have to at least keep his eye on his right flank ahead of the April filing deadline for the August primary. And he’s already been whacked by the anti-GOP incumbent group, the Senate Conservatives Fund, which has spent money on the airwaves attacking Republican senators, including Alexander.

    “It is interesting that most of us are preparing for campaigns from Republicans instead of Democrats,” Alexander said Tuesday. “I do think we have an unprecedented opportunity to capture the Senate in 2014 and lay the groundwork for capturing the presidency. And I would think all this effort and money that’s going into running against incumbent Republicans would be better directed towards defeating incumbent Democrats.”

    Tea party foes are unapologetic about their tactics.

    “There is a real hunger here in Kansas for new leadership — for true, conservative leadership,” said 42-year-old Milton Wolf, a physician who is challenging Roberts in a primary and who won the endorsement of the Senate Conservatives Fund on Tuesday. “The problem is our party has not been loyal to its own principles. … Career politicians in both parties have let us down.”
    Roberts, who was first elected to the House in 1980 and the Senate in 1996, said: “We’re going to run a very strong and aggressive race.”

    Despite the internal party battles, the 2014 map is tilted heavily in the GOP’s favor, with Republicans fighting almost exclusively in red states to recapture the majority. They’ll have to win a net of six seats and defend at least two in red states, Georgia and Kentucky, where the Democrats are competitive. Vulnerable Democrats and open Democratic seats in South Dakota, West Virginia, Montana, North Carolina, Arkansas, Alaska and Louisiana have given the GOP its best shot at retaking the majority for years to come.

    But the party may be forced to divert precious resources to help shore up GOP senators in primaries, whether it’s dispatching senators to help raise cash for their colleagues or even spending money through the National Republican Senatorial Committee to protect incumbents. Even in states that lack a GOP incumbent, Republican primaries loom large, including in Georgia, Alaska and North Carolina, where Democrats hope that the GOP nominees will emerge damaged by the time of the general election.And with a number of GOP senators, including the top two leaders, consumed with their own primary fights, they have less time to spend raising money for the NRSC at a time when it is being outraised by its Democratic counterpart.

    Sen. Rob Portman (R-Ohio), who leads the NRSC fundraising arm, praised Cornyn and McConnell for trying to help the committee despite having to worry about their own races. But he added that the number of primary races does have a ripple effect.
    “Some of our incumbents are going to have be more focused on their races than they would otherwise be, so I’m sure that’s going to affect how much they could commit to the team,” Portman said.

    Even Sen. Susan Collins, a moderate Maine Republican, is now facing a primary challenge from Erick Bennett, a conservative activist and GOP consultant who announced a bid last week.

    “I have always expected that I would have a primary opponent, so I am not surprised,” Collins said Tuesday. “And I will just work as hard as I can to try to get significant numbers of Republican voters to turn out.”

    It’s a problem that Democratic senators don’t really have to worry about in 2014, other than in Hawaii, where appointed Sen. Brian Schatz is fending off a challenge from Rep. Colleen Hanabusa in the Democratic primary. The closest Democratic primary in recent years has been in 2010, when then-Sen. Blanche Lincoln barely fended off a labor-backed primary challenge from then-Lt. Gov Bill Halter. She later lost in the general election.

    The growing number of primary battles reflects the lack of influence GOP leaders have over activists on the ground. GOP senators say it comes down to the fact that the conservative grass roots don’t listen to party leaders in Washington the way the Democratic base defers to the White House and its own leadership.

    “Democrats are more command-and-control, we’re more grass roots up,” Cornyn said.

    Sen. Jerry Moran (R-Kan.), who chairs the NRSC, admitted that the primary challenges complicate the GOP drive to win control of the Senate in 2014. But he argued that the reason for the growing number of insurgent challengers can be attributed to the frustration with the Obama administration and the desire to see “greater change” in Washington.

    “It’s a requirement [for incumbents] to spend money [in a primary], it doesn’t allow you to focus as much as you should or want to on your Democrat opponent,” Moran said. “But I don’t think anything there is very debilitating.”

    While several of the primary challenges are in states where Democrats stand little chance to win — such as Texas, South Carolina, Kansas, Wyoming, Tennessee and Mississippi — the threat of a primary is enough to divert senators’ attention on their races back home.

    Enzi, the three-term Wyoming Republican who is facing off against former Vice President Dick Cheney’s daughter Liz in next year’s primary, had done little fundraising before Cheney jumped into the race in July. But since then, he has more aggressively built his war chest and is not afraid to take subtle jabs at Cheney.

    In an interview Tuesday, Enzi seemed to contrast his record with the fact that Cheney spent much of her life in Northern Virginia — not Wyoming.

    “Everybody has a right to run for office, of course you have to earn it, and I’ve got over 35 years of serving the Wyoming people — besides being in business, an accountant and living in Wyoming,” he said.

    Cheney declined to be interviewed, but she’s defended her family’s long ties to the state. On Tuesday, a spokeswoman said: “Wyoming needs a senator who will get results, not just go along to get along.”

    While GOP leaders say all of their incumbents are preparing well for their primary challengers, Cochran remains, perhaps, the outlier. The Mississippi Republican, who joined the Senate in 1978, kept the political world guessing about his 2014 intentions until he suddenly announced he planned to run last Friday. He had raised just $402,000 through the end of the third quarter, with about $800,000 in the bank, and is facing a tea party-inspired challenge from Chris McDaniel, a state senator.

    Asked about McDaniel on Tuesday, Cochran would only say: “I don’t know him.”

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  2. #2
    Super Moderator Newmexican's Avatar
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    Senators up for election in 2014. Slideshow.

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  3. #3
    Senior Member AirborneSapper7's Avatar
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    BREAKING: Tea-party favorite takes on GOP big name

    Establishment Republicans are being put on notice.

    One of the most famous GOP names in Washington is now being challenged by this dynamic tea-party Republican looking to boot him from office ...

    Tea-party favorite takes on GOP big name

    Challenges 'back-stabbing' incumbent, promises 'vigorous' campaign

    Published: 2 days ago
    Garth Kant

    Rep. Steve Stockman, R-Texas

    WASHINGTON — One of Washington’s most reliably conservative lawmakers is breaking the news that he will challenge a mainstay of the Republican establishment – all because the incumbent GOP senator “undermined Sen. Ted Cruz’s fight to stop Obamacare.”

    Rep. Steve Stockman, R-Texas, told WND exclusively that he will run against against Sen. John Cornyn, R-Texas, in the state’s primary race. Cornyn is running for re-election to the U.S. Senate in 2014.

    With his campaign little more than an hour old, Stockman had already picked up some major support.
    Jenny Beth Martin, president and co-founder of Tea Party Patriots, told WND, “Congressman Stockman has proven himself to be a fighter for freedom who votes in the House of Representatives based on constitutional principles. We need more senators who will do the same.”

    Martin added, “The campaign will be interesting to watch unfold over the next few months as Stockman campaigns on these values, reminding Texans why they value their freedom and independence and why they need to change Washington, D.C., where the government has grown too big and too powerful.”

    Stockman told WND he is filing the paperwork Monday evening and that he is running against his fellow Republican because, “We are extremely disappointed in the way he treated his fellow congressmen and broke the 11th commandment and undermined (Sen.) Ted Cruz’s fight to stop Obamacare.”

    The Texan added, “And now, it looks like Cruz was right and Cornyn was wrong. He (Cornyn) sided with the president, essentially, in making sure Obamacare became law while Cruz did everything possible to stop it.”

    It wasn’t just what Cornyn did, but how he did it, that rankled Stockman.

    “If you disagree with someone, that’s fine, but I really believe you should do it privately, not so publicly,” he said. “He made a big show of removing his name from a letter supporting Cruz.”

    Stockman sounded as if he couldn’t wait to take on this new challenge.

    “We think he needs to be held accountable for his decisions, and we look forward to a vigorous campaign,” he said.

    The congressman also expects it will be tough to unseat the incumbent, saying, “I know John is in the habit of attacking conservatives. He didn’t back (Sen.) Marco Rubio, and he didn’t back (former Senate candidate) Joe Miller in Alaska.”

    The Texan had been keeping his decision to run close to the vest, until informing WND.

    He said even Cruz doesn’t know about his decision yet.

    Stockman is risking his place in Congress, because running for the Senate means he will have to give up his seat in the House of Representatives.

    Cornyn wields a lot of power after 10 years in Washington and has been a member of the Republican Senate leadership since 2006. He was chairman of the National Republican Senatorial Committee for the 2010 and 2012 election cycles. In 2012, he became Minority Whip for the 113th Congress.

    WND asked: What makes you think you can beat this entrenched incumbent?

    “I don’t know that I can beat him, but I am sure going to try,” he said, adding that he thinks he has a shot because, “In Texas, conservative policies win over stabbing fellow Republicans in the back.”

    Stockman will try to ride the wave of voter discontent with Obamacare.

    In October, he was already predicting a silver lining to the failed attempt to defund the health-care law, telling WND, “In every loss, there can be a victory.”

    Just as the loss at the Alamo led to the creation of Texas, he explained, the losing battle to stop Obamacare is becoming a victory, because Democrats will now have to explain why their health-care law has turned out to be such a disaster.

    In November, WND profiled Stockman’s reputation as one of Capitol Hill’s most popular members on Twitter, using his pithy but pungent tweets to deliver scathing indictments of Democrats, often with a characteristically wry sense of humor.

    In October, Stockman detailed to WND how and why Obamacare would boomerang for Democrats.

    Also in October, the Texan spoke with WND and passionately defended House Speaker John Boehner, R-Ohio, who had come under a biting attack by the administration for supporting the effort to defund Obamacare. Despite the fact Stockman had opposed Boehner’s re-election as speaker, the Texan felt it was outrageous that President Obama would negotiate with Iran but not with the House leader.

    And in August, Stockman told WND he had attorneys investigating whether the president had violated the Constitution. He said, if so, it would be time to carefully begin to consider impeachment, but, he cautioned, “[I]t’s the last resort, and it’s a very serious step.”

    Prior to his election in 2012, Stockman served in Congress from 1995-97. He holds a bachelor’s degree in accounting from the University of Houston-Clear Lake.

    Stockman and his wife of 25 years, Patti, live in Clear Lake, Texas.

    Follow Garth Kant on Twitter @DCgarth
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  4. #4
    Senior Member AirborneSapper7's Avatar
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