In years past, the fact that Senate and House GOP leaders meandered their way to the Republican Main Street Partnership gathering this weekend in Florida’s picturesque Amelia Island would hardly raise an eyebrow.
After all, the group is run by one of their own, retired Rep. Steve LaTourette of Ohio, a close ally of Speaker John A. Boehner, and the retreat is the classic junket staged during a congressional recess. Republicans usually would be looking to stage a show of unity in a midterm election year that is trending their way.
But 2014 has proved to be different, as a long-simmering anger on the right side of the Republican Party has fomented a larger coalition of conservative ideologues, tea party crusaders and grass-roots activists determined to put a stop to what they see as a decadelong liberal drift to their party.
The result is that this year’s Main Street meeting has become a flashpoint for battle-ready conservatives looking to make examples of lawmakers who attend a group with moderate views and funded by Democrat-leaning labor unions.
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