Tea Party: Dropping GOP Stars?

Many of their candidates have adopted more moderate positions on issues such as immigration and health care, widening their appeal in swing states but lessening their grass-roots following. 

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U.S. Sen. Marco Rubio (R-Fla.) during a recent hearing on Capitol Hill (Karen Bleier/AFP/Getty Images)

Members of the Tea Party plan to abandon Republican lawmakers they helped elect four years ago because many have adopted more moderate positions on key issues such as immigration and health care, the Associated Press reports. The move could hurt the re-election chances of former stars, including the governors of Florida and Ohio.

Four years ago, the movement and its potent mix of anger and populism persuaded thousands of costumed and sign-waving conservatives to protest the ballooning deficit and President Obama's health care law. It swept a crop of no-compromise lawmakers into Congress and governor's offices and transformed political up-and-comers, including Florida Sen. Marco Rubio, into household names.

But as many tea party stars seek re-election next year and Rubio considers a 2016 presidential run, conservative activists are finding themselves at a crossroads. Many of their standard-bearers have embraced more moderate positions on bedrock issues such as immigration and health care, broadening their appeal in swing states but dampening grass-roots passion.

"They keep sticking their finger in the eyes of the guys who got them elected," said Ralph King, a co-founder of the Cleveland Tea Party Patriots. "A lot of people are feeling betrayed." 

The tea party is a loosely knit web of activists, and some are hoping to rekindle the fire with 2014 primary challenges to wayward Republicans. But many more say they plan to sit out high-profile races in some important swing states next year, a move that GOP leaders fear could imperil the re-election prospects of former tea party luminaries, including the governors of Florida and Ohio.

Read more at the Associated Press.

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