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Fringe Tea Party Candidates Set To Knock Off Favored GOP Candidates

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This post originally appeared on Think Progress.

Last night,  fringe tea party Senate candidate Rand Paul (R-KY) sailed to victory in his primary over Trey Grayson, the GOP candidate favored by Minority Leader Sen. Mitch McConnell and much of the Republican establishment. Not only did heavyweight Republicans like Dick Cheney and Rudy Giuliani stump for Grayson, but shadowy GOP front groups, like the American Future Fund — which  casts itself as a tea party group — ran harsh attack ads hitting Paul. Paul’s success comes shortly after tea party candidates defeated incumbent Sen. Bob Bennett (R-UT) in the Utah primary, and tea party candidate Marco Rubio (R-FL)  forced Charlie Crist out of the Republican Party.

Republican operatives  orchestrated the tea party movement to lay the foundation for Republican electoral gains. However, the far right tea parties have been uncontrollable, demanding that Republican candidates support  extreme positions like eliminating Social Security, Medicare, the Department of Education, and even the Americans with Disabilities Act.

Paul’s success has already sent ripples throughout the GOP establishment, with other ramifications in Kentucky and for upcoming GOP primaries:

– Todd Lally, an extremist who has said that President Obama wouldn’t be able to get a security clearance,  road Paul’s coattails to defeat the establishment-backed candidate Jeff Reetz in the primary for Kentucky’s third congressional district. Reetz is a Pizza Hut franchise owner who received financial support from the National Republican Campaign Committee (NRCC).

– Vauhn Ward, Sarah Palin endorsed Republican candidate in Idaho’s first congressional district, is  quickly losing favor with the Republican primary voters. The tea party-backed candidate, State Rep.  Raul Labrador, is surging in the polls against Ward. NRCC leaders like chairman Rep. Pete Sessions (R-TX) has hosted a fundraiser for Ward.

– In Pennsylvania’s third district yesterday, voters chose  tea party candidate  Mike Kelly over  NRCC-endorsed candidate Paul Huber.

– In the Colorado U.S. Senate race, far right tea party candidate  Ken Buck is  surging in the polls against Jane Norton, the longtime Republican politician  chosen by the National Republican Senatorial Committee to run.

As ThinkProgress  reported earlier this year, extreme tea party candidates have sought to purge Republican incumbents and handpicked GOP candidates in races  all over the country.

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