Conservatives in Republican states are turning against moderate members of their own party, trying to drive them out of state legislatures to clear the way for reshaping government across a wide swath of mid-America controlled by the GOP.
Political groups are helping finance the efforts by supporting primary election challenges to several dozen moderate Republicans in the Midwest and South, especially prominent lawmakers who run key state committees.
The Club for Growth is spending about $500,000 in Missouri this year. The anti-tax group Americans for Prosperity opened new chapters in Iowa, Minnesota and New Mexico. The business group Texans for Lawsuit Reform spent $3.5 million on legislative candidates in the first half of 2012, more than double its total during the same period two years ago.