The Republican Party's civil war seems to be escalating.
The latest battle was initiated last night when Rep. Steve Stockman, R-Texas, filed his primary challenge to the second highest ranking Republican in the Senate John Cornyn.
The move came as a surprise, but it is perhaps the most audacious of a string of primary challenges from the right that are intended to defy the tradition of respecting incumbency.
"I am honored to be called the most fearless conservative in Congress, and proud of my perfect 100 percent lifetime conservative rating," Stockmann wrote to his supporters today. "I am leading the fight for our values. But John Cornyn wakes up every morning and works to make the Senate a more liberal place."
|"John Cornyn wakes up every morning and works to make the Senate a more liberal place." - Rep. Steve Stockman, R-Texas|
Many establishment Republicans have been furious for years that some individuals, backed by somewhat moneyed outside groups, have put safe incumbents — and the party's chances of retaking the Senate — in jeopardy for the sake of ideological purity.
Specifically groups like the Senate Conservatives Fund and the Madison Project have backed Tea Party or other candidates over incumbents. The Club for Growth, a fiscal conservative group, has done the same in some races.
"They're participating in ruining the [Republican] brand," said House Minority Leader Mitch McConnell a Republican from Kentucky who is facing his own challenge.
"What they do is mislead their donors into believing the reason that we can't get as good an outcome as we'd like to get is not because of a Democratic Senate and a Democratic president, but because Republicans are insufficiently committed to the cause — which is utter nonsense," McConnell told the Washington Examiner this month while referring to the Senate Conservatives Fund.
And today, Senate Conservatives Fund endorsed another outsider conservative, Milton Wolf, over 16 year Senate veteran Pat Roberts of Kansas.
So far at least eight congressional Republicans are being challenged by conservative candidates.
Here are the top races that will be the battlefield of the Republican civil war in 2014:
The Race: Texas Senate
The Race: Kentucky Senate
The Race: Mississippi Senate
The Race: Kansas Senate