The rabid right-wing of the Republican Party senses a chance to seize even more power and may challenge more than a dozen current GOP candidates in key House and Senate races next year.

Conservatives see no room in the GOP for moderates or those who don’t fall lockstep into line for hard-core right-wing issues, a stance that scares the hell out of Republican party officials who see expanding the base as the only hope for Republicans in 2010.

“What you’re going to see,” former GOP House majoirty leader Dick Armey tells Politico, is moderates and conservatives across the country in primaries.”

In other words, a party ripped apart from within.

Reports Politico:

In what could be a nightmare scenario for Republican Party officials, conservative activists are gearing up to challenge leading GOP candidates in more than a dozen key House and Senate races in 2010.

Conservatives and tea party activists had already set their sights on some of the GOP’s top Senate recruits — a list that includes Gov. Charlie Crist in Florida, former Rep. Rob Simmons in Connecticut and Rep. Mark Kirk in Illinois, among others.

But their success in Tuesday’s upstate New York special election, where grass-roots efforts pushed GOP nominee Dede Scozzafava to drop out of the race and helped Conservative Party nominee Doug Hoffman surge into the lead on the eve of Election Day, has generated more money and enthusiasm than organizers ever imagined.

Activists predict a wave that could roll from California to Kentucky to New Hampshire and that could leave even some GOP incumbents — Utah Sen. Bob Bennett is one — facing unexpectedly fierce challenges from their right flank.

“I would say it’s the tip of the spear,” said Dick Armey, the former GOP House majority leader who now serves as chairman of FreedomWorks, an organization that has been closely aligned with the tea party movement. “We are the biggest source of energy in American politics today.”

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