GOP infighting shakes party- It will Break us or Make us

TAMPA – An increasingly fractious challenge to the Republican Party from its own conservative base could relegate the party to indefinite minority status, some Republicans fear.

It’s showing up in the form of conservative primary challengers against candidates blessed by the party establishment – a strange phenomenon in a party known for tightly controlled, wait-your-turn politics.

Some Republicans fear the divisive primaries could leave GOP voters divided and dispirited, or push to the party so far right it alienates mainstream voters.

“If you tried to devise a strategy for destroying the Republican Party in Florida, you couldn’t do much better than this,” said retired University of South Florida political scientist Darryl Paulson, a Republican and a former Heritage Foundation fellow.

“The kind of narrow appeal they’re offering would almost guarantee Republicans would become the minority party in Florida,” Paulson said.

But some party officials say it’s only part of the process of reordering the party’s leadership and political priorities after a couple of disastrous elections.

Members of the movement say it’s the only way for the party to regain credibility as a conservative option in a time of Democratic dominance.

“This has given us an opportunity to rediscover the roots of the party,” said Marco Rubio, who is making national headlines with his challenge to Florida Gov. Charlie Crist in the Republican U.S. Senate primary. “The vast majority of Americans support limited government.”

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