The Tea Party is dead. Long live the Tea Party.

After the 2014 midterm elections, conventional wisdom held that the grassroots conservative activist fervor that gripped the Republican Party during President Obama's first term had dissipated. Republicans won control of the Senate after incumbents and many leadership-backed candidates defeated more conservative primary challengers. It was a victory for the dreaded party establishment.

Eight of 12 Republican incumbents running for re-election to the Senate that year drew Tea Party challengers, including Republican Leader Mitch McConnell of Kentucky and longtime Mississippi Sen. Thad Cochran, both in conservatives states. All eight incumbents won. "The Tea Party, the popular political movement that grew from widespread public concern over the growth of government, died on Tuesday," wrote one columnist, referring to the day of one of those primaries.

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That was before disaffected conservatives helped topple House Speaker John Boehner last month and then denied House Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy the votes to succeed him this month, forcing the California Republican to withdraw his name from consideration. Combined with Dave Brat's upset victory over then-House Majority Leader Eric Cantor in a Virginia Republican primary last year, this month's action brought the number of House leaders ousted by Tea Partiers to three — three big ones.

And they might not be done yet, judging from their intense scrutiny of potential Boehner replacements, some of them former conservative movement favorites in their own right.

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