Tea party leaders threaten primary challenges to Republicans supporting immigration bill

Alex Pappas Political Reporter
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A prominent tea party organization is signaling to Republican legislators that they could face primary challenges if they support the comprehensive immigration overhaul being voted on in Congress this week.

“Sixty-four percent of our local coordinators predict primary challengers for those who vote ‘Yes’ on the amnesty bill,” said Jenny Beth Martin, the national coordinator for Tea Party Patriots.

The apparent threat to pro-immigration reform Republicans comes as the Senate appears poised to pass the legislation authored by the Gang of Eight this week.

The bill is expected to have a much harder time of passing the Republican-controlled House. Groups like the Tea Party Patriots are ardently against the bill and what they call the “insufficient” border security amendment authored by North Dakota Sen. John Hoeven and Tennessee Sen. Bob Corker.

“In a conference call with Tea Party Patriots local coordinators this week, 99 percent of them opposed the Corker-Hoeven amendment, and are disturbed at the overall bill-making process,” Martin said.

“Like Obamacare, this bill is too massive, offers special interest kickbacks and perks, has no measurable or enforceable border security, no one has had time to read what’s in it, and the final Senate vote will likely happen under cover of darkness,” she said.

Martin called for “positive immigration reform” which would “secure the border first.”

“The Senate should go back to the drawing board and meet these guidelines,” she said.

The group didn’t name names of potential targets. But former Florida Rep. Allen West, a tea party favorite defeated in 2012, hasn’t ruled out a challenge to Florida Sen. Marco Rubio, a member of the Gang of Eight.

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