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GOP candidates in the Tea Party crosshairs

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It’s already too late for that in Indiana, where state treasurer Richard Mourdock is taking on Richard Lugar. And it may be too late for Hatch, who could well face Rep. Jason Chaffetz, a self-described “definite maybe” who will decide after Labor Day whether to run. Others drawing conservative scrutiny and complaints are Olympia Snowe of Maine, Scott Brown of Massachusetts, and Bob Corker of Tennessee.

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What all this amounts to is nothing less than a redefinition of conservatism—or, at least, the brand of conservatism acceptable to those who have the power to boot Republicans who have long toed what used to be the party line. The no-longer-acceptable column includes a willingness to negotiate or form partnerships with Democrats, or even to back the aims of the last Republican president.

The GOP establishment is standing behind its incumbents. John Cornyn, chairman of the National Republican Senatorial Committee, is holding a fundraiser for Hatch on Monday in New York.

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