The most important election in 2013 may well be the primary in Alabama's 1st Congressional District, where Bradley Byrne, who was supported by the U.S. Chamber of Commerce and mainline Republicans, defeated Dean Young, the candidate of the Tea Party.
The worm turns, as they say. Now Tea Party members in the House of Representatives who supported the government shutdown will have to increasingly worry about primary challenges from traditional Republicans and traditional Republican-friendly, pro-business groups.
Until now there was great fear among more moderate Republicans in the House that they will be challenged by Tea Party candidates in primaries. Now it works the other way. Business groups feel great antipathy against Tea Party Republicans who threaten business with their extreme tactics, such as the shutdown, and whose antics have put Democratic control of the House well within reach.
After the government shutdown, there was a surge of successful Democratic recruitment and fundraising, which raises the odds that Democrats can regain the House. After Tuesday there will be a surge of recruitment and fundraising from business groups for challengers to Tea Party House members. There will be increased confidence in centrist House Republicans, who are in many cases threatened by Democratic challengers after the shutdown fiasco and will now be emboldened to stand up against Tea Party fanatics.
New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie (R), who won a huge victory this week, ran against the Tea Party antics as much as he ran against his Democratic opponent. Christie is now the dominant GOP presidential front-runner for 2016 while his potential 2016 opponents are in retreat.
The GOP civil war has begun, and the days of the Tea Party as viable national force are ending.