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Tea Party leadership begins applying primary pressure early

Whether the Tea Party rank-and-file decide to get on board remains an open question, but conservative figures like Dick Armey, the former Republican majority leader who now chairs FreedomWorks, and Erick Erickson, managing editor of the blog RedState, are already excited about the prospect of directing Tea Party outrage toward new and unsuspecting targets.

The New York Times obtained a draft of a confidential memo to be distributed to all incoming House Republican lawmakers, in which Armey and FreedomWorks president Matt Kibbe tell lawmakers that working to repeal health care reform is “nonnegotiable,” and they’ll become the target of a major backlash if they don’t succeed in doing so.

“Politically speaking, your only choice is to get on offense and start moving boldly ahead to repeal, replace and defund Obamacare in 2011, or risk rejection by the voters in 2012,” Armey and Kibbe wrote.

Meanwhile, Erikson wrote yesterday, “We have a significant opportunity to improve the Senate GOP through some primaries [in 2012],” and he provided a list of all the Senate Republicans up for re-election in the next cycle:

John Barasso (WY)

Scott Brown (MA)

Bob Corker (TN)

John Ensign (NV)

Orrin Hatch (UT)

Kay Bailey Hutchison (TX)

Jon Kyl (AZ)

Richard Lugar (IN)

Olympia Snowe (ME)

Roger Wicker (MS)

Note that this is just the list of Senate Republicans running. Not all will be targets, but it will be from these men and women that the tea party movement starts looking for targets.

Now, before you all get giddy about Olympia Snowe, I would respectfully suggest that Corker, Hatch, Hutchison, Lugar, and Wicker make better targets as we have a much greater certainty of both beating them in primaries and also winning the general election.

Wicker and Corker in particular make exciting prospects for the tea party movement.

At this point, the aforementioned writings represent idle threats and not any sort of movement with real popular backing. But with the experiences of their successfully primaried colleagues like Sen. Bob Bennett (R-Utah), Rep. Mike Castle (R-Del.) and Sen. Lisa Murkowski (R-Alaska) fresh in the minds of most Republican congressmen, such threats might be enough to keep them marching in lockstep with the Tea Party’s demands throughout the next legislative session.

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