House Republicans are facing a host of challenges in the 2014 midterm elections, but some of the biggest battles could take place within the party.
As public anger over the political infighting in Washington continues to grow ahead of the primaries, incumbents across the ideological divide will find themselves facing GOP contestants eager to upend the status quo, reports The New York Times.
The party is gearing up for at least 18 primaries next year, the outcome of which could determine who has control of the Republican Conference in the House.
In Southwest Pennsylvania, for example, real estate developer Art Halvorson, a former member of the Coast Guard, is trying to oust incumbent Bill Shuster, who inherited the seat from his father in 2001.
“People don’t remember a time before the Shusters,” Halverson told the newspaper. “They created an aristocracy, and people are so accustomed to that’s the way politics is done around here, they don’t see how he can be toppled. I’ve got to show leadership what’s important, not seniority, and longevity is not leadership.”
In his introduction on his campaign website, Halvorson says, “My candidacy for Congress presents a clear choice. I observe a disconnect between the values of my friends and neighbors and the career politicians who are supposed to represent us in Congress. It’s time to restore the government to the people.”
“That’s the narrative everybody wants to know,” Pennsylvania candidate Halvorson told the Times. “What’s the Republican Party going to look like after Ted Cruz Tea Party people get done with it?” Who’s going to have the ascendancy?”
On the other hand, tea party lawmakers are also facing Republican challengers who are conservative but eager to clean up the chaos politics in Washington and conduct themselves more professionally and businesslike.
Many of the tea party challengers are backed by business leaders concerned that continued gridlock and GOP infighting will end up hurting their bottom line.
In Michigan, Rep. Justin Amash, who won with tea party support in 2010, faces Brian Ellis, the founder of an investment firm who has already won the backing of several business leaders.
Amash “has turned his back on conservative principles,” Ellis said in a news release announcing his candidacy.
The personal conduct of some lawmakers is also in play in some campaigns, where scandals may end up being the main focus. In Tennessee, for instance, Scott DesJarlais, a doctor who was also swept into Congress on the 2010 tea party wave, is facing an uphill battle since he admitted to having an affair with a patient and encouraging her to get an abortion.
The Times noted that another woman patient has said that she had an affair with him as well and smoked marijuana with him. Now, State Sen. Jim Tracy is reportedly considered the frontrunner in the August primary.