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The Fix: The next tea party targets

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By Aaron Blake
Tuesday, September 21, 2010; 10:55 AM

The 2010 primary season is over, but for a handful of Republican Senators, the worrying has only just begun as they contemplate the possibility of serious primary challenges from tea party-backed candidates in 2012.

Primary losses by Rep. Mike Castle (R-Del.) and Sen. Lisa Murkowski (R-Alaska) in recent weeks sent a clear signal to the Republican establishment: no one is safe.

While noted moderate Maine Sen. Olympia Snowe (R) is an obvious tea party target in the next election cycle, there are a handful of other GOP Senators who could well find themselves with a fight on the right too.

Here's a look at each of their situations:

* Olympia Snowe (R-Maine)

Nobody inflames the right wing of the GOP quite like Snowe, who voted for the President Obama's health care bill in the Senate Finance Committee (although she opposed it in the full floor vote) and is often the first -- and often only -- Republican that Democrats recruit to try to pass their legislative priorities.

A recent poll from Public Policy Polling, a Democratic automated polling firm based out of North Carolina, showed just 29 percent of Maine Republicans say they would definitely support Snowe while 63 percent would prefer a more conservative alternative.

Though Maine is not known as a conservative state, the Republican base elected a tea party candidate in its governor's primary this year, and that doesn't bode well for Snowe.

If that candidate for governor -- Waterville Mayor Paul LePage -- comes ups short this fall, he would be an obvious candidate to challenge Snowe in 2012.

A conservative activist, former Lisbon Falls Town Selectman Scott D'Amboise, has been running since earlier this year.

But he has yet to file a Federal Election Commission report, and he barely raised any money during a 2006 run at Rep. Mike Michaud (D-Maine).

Andrew Ian Dodge, the leader of Maine chapter of the Tea Party Patriots, is guaranteeing Snowe gets a viable GOP opponent in two years.

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