Enzi is vulnerable to a primary challenge in 2014. (Chris Maddaloni/CQ Roll Call File Photo)
Hard-line conservatives are rising out of the ashes of a weekslong government shutdown, emboldened by the possibility of adding to their ranks in the Senate next year — whether by picking up Democrat-held seats or taking out Republican incumbents.
Just two Republican senators have lost in primaries in the last two election cycles, but that’s not stopping a growing number of intraparty challengers this cycle. Conservative third-party groups and candidates hope to give more backup to folks like Sens. Ted Cruz of Texas and Mike Lee of Utah, who led an effort to defund the health care law.
The GOP brand overall may have taken a significant hit this month and caused at least some concern within the party about obtaining or keeping the majority in either chamber in the next couple of election cycles. But the shutdown only fueled challenges to sitting Republicans.
It’s still too early to know exactly how competitive many of the challengers can be. At this point, there is a big difference in the competitiveness of the races from the top three to bottom three on this list. And as the most recent fundraising reports to the Federal Election Commission illustrated, nearly all of the incumbents’ opponents are starting out in deep financial holes.
Still, with outside groups such as the Club for Growth and the Senate Conservatives Fund beginning to engage, a challenger’s money isn’t the only threat — and any of these races could theoretically take off.
Here are the seven Republican senators most vulnerable to a primary challenge, in order: Full story