The Cruz Quintet

Those observers who think the big political story of 2013 is a “backlash” against the Tea Party might want to take notice of the Senate Republican challengers who want to be the next Ted Cruz.

Patricia Murphy has written a handy-dandy profile of five of them: Chris McDaniel of MS; Milton Wolf of KS; Ben Sasse of NE; Joe Miller of Alaska; and Matt Bevin of KY.

The Miller and Bevin challenges clearly have general-election implications, perhaps reduplicating the DE, NV and CO precedents that cost the GOP dearly in 2010, and the MO and IN fiascos of 2012. The others are more likely to affect the sense of direction of the GOP itself. And these five could be joined by high-profile challengers in SC and TN before long, not to mention an entire field in GA that is working to give Democrat Michelle Nunn a fighting chance.

It’s too early to handicap any of these races, but the raw material is definitely there for another Senate cycle in which conservative “purges,” successful or near-successful, take center stage.

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Ed Kilgore

Ed Kilgore, a Monthly contributing editor, is a columnist for the Daily Intelligencer, New York magazine’s politics blog, and the managing editor for the Democratic Strategist.