Adam Brandon, a spokesman for the tea party group FreedomWorks, says he “wouldn’t take anyone off the table” as potential targets for a 2014 GOP primary challenge if conservatives perceive they’ve been betrayed, including minority leader Mitch McConnell of Kentucky and Sen. John Cornyn (R) of Texas. FreedomWorks put its muscle behind the ouster of Sen. Bob Bennett (R) of Utah in 2010.
Still, each of the five GOP senators is a political survivor, say strategists with conservative groups who would be in the thick of potential primary challenges. It may be difficult to find a viable primary challenger in any of those races and almost impossible in the case of Senator Collins, whose standing in Maine may be insurmountable.
But some, like Senator Graham, are already seeing stirrings of a primary challenger, “grand bargain” or not.
“If you’re looking to the horizon of 2014, you know, the sun may rise over South Carolina,” sais Chris Chocola, president of the fiscally conservative Club for Growth, at a Monitor-sponsored breakfast with reporters in September.
Sal Russo, a conservative strategist allied with Tea Party Express, one of the largest tea party groups, says a broad insurgency from the right, tied to fury over tax hikes in a "grand bargain," isn’t out of the question.