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GOP infighting fierce even in Western strongholds

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By AP

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Updated: Sat, 16 Nov 2013 09:18:17 EST

MONTPELIER, Idaho (AP) — Republicans have made the Mountain West a stronghold. That's why brewing internal party brawls in Wyoming, Idaho and Utah are bedeviling loyalists who yearn for GOP unity.

Closely watched elections this month in Virginia and New Jersey did little to resolve the growing struggle between tea partyers and the Republican establishment.

Now, some of the sharpest infighting is shifting to Big Sky country.

Congressman Mike Simpson of Idaho says the fight is inevitable. Tea party favorite Bryan Smith is challenging Simpson in next May's GOP primary.

U.S. Sen. Mike Enzi of Wyoming also is a target of tea party and anti-establishment groups that prize ideological purity above all.

Enzi and Simpson say they are rock-solid conservatives but they want Republicans to achieve as much as possible in a divided government.

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