Tea Party Lays Groundwork for Republican Bloodbath

The tea party must work harder in 2014 to maintain its influence.

A tea party supporter protest outside the U.S. Supreme Court on the third day of oral arguments over the constitutionality of the Affordable Care Act on March 28, 2012, in Washington, D.C.
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"I think they're pushing our members in places where they don't want to be. And frankly, I just think that they've lost all credibility," Boehner chided.

On the heels of the public spat, the Tea Party Leadership Fund announced it was declaring "war on him." The group announced Friday it is looking for a primary challenger to run against Boehner in 2014.

The speaker is not the only one who has gotten to the end of his rope.

Both Karl Rove's campaign group Crossroads USA and the U.S. Chamber of Commerce have vowed to dump significant money into primaries to defend incumbent Republicans from primary challenges in 2014.

When the tea party first came onto the scene, they appeared to be on the same page as the business community, said Tom Donohue, the chamber's president, in a speech last Wednesday. But that turned out not to be the case, he said.

"We had a lot of people who came along who had different views and they tried to hitch their wagon to the tea party engine, and those are the people that wanted to not pay the federal debt and to shut down government," Donohue said. "The business community understands what is at stake. We'll have all the resources we need to run the most effective political program of 2014."

[MORE: Republicans Hope to Force Democrats Into Paying for Unemployment Insurance]

Even conservatives outside of Washington like Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker warn that the opportunity to take back the Senate in the midterm could backfire for the GOP if the party remains divided.

"Don't focus on the people in office; focus on those who you would like to replace," Walker said during an appearance on CNN on Jan. 5.

Republican tea party groups and those often aligned with them, however, are not ready to give up on their fight for the soul of the party nor are they worried the Chamber of Commerce or other establishment groups will be able to be enough of a force to deter them.

"We are going to do what we have always done," says Barney Keller, a spokesman for Club for Growth, a conservative PAC that advocates to elect fiscal conservatives. "None of this is new. We try and identify candidates that can clearly articulate a fiscally conservative message and more often than not, we succeed.

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