MEMPHIS, Tenn. (AP) — It's too early to say the tea party's over.
But with a Senate majority in reach, the Republican Party and its allies are using campaign cash, positions of influence and other levers of power to defuse what they consider challenges by weak conservative candidates before the 2014 midterm elections and the 2016 presidential race. The party is backing some tea party-styled candidates. And those lawmakers are accepting help from the very establishment the class vowed to upend.
It's a sweeping effort by national and state Republicans to blur the dividing line between factions that many believe cost the GOP the Senate majority and prolonged the 2012 presidential nomination fight. This year, Republicans are within six seats of controlling the Senate.
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