Has GOP Found The Blueprint For Beating Tea Party Pols?

Kansas Rep. Tim Huelskamp's surprising primary defeat Tuesday at the hands of a candidate who was backed by the Republican establishment could serve as a blueprint for future efforts to oust Tea Party members in GOP primaries.

While Huelskamp's race was characterized by attacks on his handling of issues specific to his rural congressional district, the success of efforts to frame a deeply conservative lawmaker as a Washington insider could embolden the groups who ousted Huelskamp to try the same tactics on other members who have bucked party leadership.

Tom Davis, former Virginia congressman and former chair of the National Republican Congressional Committee, believes such an approach could work again.

But after the election, Republicans will likely hold fewer House seats in total, as Democrats are actively targeting more than a dozen seats presently held by GOP members. A winnowed-down GOP conference could allow the Freedom Caucus members to exert even more influence over the remaining majority.

"I do think that the Freedom Caucus, if they manage to keep the rest of their numbers, they're going to have more influence," said Ford O'Connell, a Republican strategist.

However, O'Connell said the factors of Huelskamp's race were too unique to translate easily to other primaries.

"I think this is more of a perfect storm," he said of the confluence of local interests and outside money the fueled Huelskamp's ouster.

"This could be replicated, but I'm not expecting this to be anything more than a one-off or an outlier at best," O'Connell added.

Read more from Sarah Westwood at The Washington Examiner

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