With conservative activists backing challengers to sitting Republican Senators in Mississippi (Chris McDaniel), Kansas (Milton Wolf), and Kentucky (Matt Bevin), establishment Republicans are feeling the pressure to maintain their power. In an interview with the New York Times, Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) declared war on the more conservative members of his party stating, “I think we are going to crush [the Tea Party] everywhere.”
In Mississippi, Sen. Thad Cochran currently has little to worry about. He is comfortable with his record and lead over Chris McDaniel heading into the state’s June 3rd Primary according to a Roll Call report. Tea Party groups, including those that support McDaniel, have targeted incumbents like Cochran who have used earmarks and their positions within the federal government to bring pork into their states while bolstering their own footholds in government.
Conservative organizations such as FreedomWorks, the Madison Project, Club for Growth, and the Senate Conservatives Fund are collectively but unofficially known as the “Tea Party.” Among other things, such organizations have typically supported a return to constitutionally limited government, lower taxes (if not abolition of the IRS), and reducing the size and intrusiveness of the federal government. In 2010 and 2012 such organizations were responsible for ousting Republican Party-backed candidates to elect Senators Rand Paul (R-KY), Ted Cruz (R-TX), and Marco Rubio (R-FL).
The Republican Party traditionally supports incumbents but has been criticized in recent years by its more conservative members like the Tea Party organizations for neglecting the U.S. Constitution, not fighting for limited government and lower taxes, and not aggressively opposing President Obama and Democrat Party policies.