But beating him in the primary won't likely be easy.
Here in the Dutch Reformed country of West Michigan, long a bastion of mainstream, mannerly conservatism, voters in 2010 handed the House seat once held by Gerald R. Ford to Justin Amash, a 33-year-old revolutionary and heir to the libertarian mantle of former congressman Ron Paul (R-Tex.). Amash was part of an attempted coup against House Speaker John A. Boehner (R- Ohio) and is a leader of the House tea party faction that helped force a government shutdown last week.Even having the Chamber of Commerce against him doesn't, however, mean that Amash is cruising for a bruising come November. First of all, the establishment doesn't yet have that primary candidate. And second, Rick Santorum beat Mitt Romney in this district, an indication of the hold tea party extremists have on the minds of voters there.
But within Grand Rapids’ powerful business establishment, patience is running low with Amash’s ideological agenda and tactics. Some business leaders are recruiting a Republican primary challenger who they hope will serve the old-fashioned way—by working the inside game and playing nice to gain influence and solve problems for the district.
Amash isn't, however, isn't incumbent who faces some head-shaking on his home turf. And in some places, the establishment Republican has a good chance of getting GOP business-as-usual restored.
Read more about GOP establishment v. tea party primary fights below the fold.
Kerry Bentivolio, the reindeer rancher and tea partier known in some quarters as the "accidental Republican" after incumbent Thaddeus McCotter's reelection to Michigan's 11th congressional district in the Detroit suburbs fell apart in 2012, looks to be in serious trouble based on how much money he's raised. And he has a serious primary foe, business David Trott. But the Trott campaign has gone to some pains to point out that he's not going after Bentivolio out of antipathy to the tea party.
Some GOP establishment primary opposition has also arisen to tea partier Rep. Scott DesJarlais of Tennessee's 4th CD and Walter Jones of North Carolina's 3rd CD (even though the 11-term one-time Democrat isn't a tea partier).
Vin Weber, a long-time conservative firebrand who worked to create the Republican revolution that took Congress by storm in 1994 and an early participant in the neoconservative Project for the New American Century, has the alchemy of tea party politics now occasionally seems like a moderate (relatively speaking), told Rucker:
“It’s a new dynamic, and we don’t know how far it’s going to go. [...] All the energy in the Republican Party the last few years has come from the tea party. The notion that there might be some energy from the radical center, the people whose positions in the conservative mainstream are more center-right but who are just furious about the dysfunctionality of government—that’s different.”Democrats can revel in this internal battling. But turning tea party-controlled districts back over to establishment Republicans in the Reagan mold is a far cry from the needed change that produces a progressive majority. We have some battles to win in our own party to make that happen.