'Fiscal cliff' deal: Will the Tea Party find renewed strength? (+video)
Some, including members of the Tea Party, are dissatisfied with the recently agreed upon deal relating to the fiscal cliff. Tea Party groups are looking toward the next election in hopes of replacing less conservative Republican members of Congress with Tea Party candidates.
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"Presidential politics in 2012 sucked oxygen out of the conversation in local races," said Matt Kibbe, president of FreedomWorks, which coordinates with Tea Party groups around the country. "So to us, 2014 looks more like 2010."Skip to next paragraph
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After some disastrous showings by Tea Party candidates, most notably Christine O'Donnell in Delaware in 2010 who ended up running a television ad denying she was a witch, conservatives are on the lookout for credible candidates who can run effective campaigns and raise sufficient funds for a general election.
It is reasonable to expect challenges to some Republicans from the right in 2014, said James Henson, a politics professor at the University of Texas in Austin.
"Whether they use the name Tea Party or not is irrelevant," he said. "The DNA of their movement has now been spliced into the DNA of the Republican Party."
'In major trouble'
Previous battles in Congress have been marked by Tea Party activists around the country bombarding their elected representatives, mostly Republicans, calling on them to hold the conservative line.
Many did not bother ahead of the fiscal cliff deal, a bipartisan agreement to raise tax rates on incomes of more than $450,000 per household.
"We knew the Republican leadership would cave in," said Debbie Dooley, a coordinator at national umbrella group Tea Party Patriots and a founder of the Atlanta Tea Party. "So we didn't expend a lot of energy on this issue."
Instead, Dooley said activists in her home state of Georgia are focused on educating voters about America's spiraling debt and seeking a replacement for Saxby Chambliss, who was forced into a runoff election in 2008 and only narrowly managed to return to the Senate.
"If a credible candidate comes forward, then Saxby Chambliss is in major trouble," Dooley said.
In South Carolina, Joe Dugan of the Myrtle Beach Tea Party said there are credible alternatives to Senator Lindsey Graham, including three representatives elected in 2010 who have been reliably conservative on most issues.