Iowa Republican caucus to test conservatives in Senate race

Cruz walks to the Senate floor for a vote on a $1.1 trillion U.S. spending bill at the U.S. Capitol in WashingtonBy Nick Carey COUNCIL BLUFFS, Iowa (Reuters) – In one of the first skirmishes of 2014 between opposing wings of the Republican Party, conservatives and moderates vie on Tuesday for an early lead in the fight to nominate a candidate to run for the U.S. Senate seat of retiring Iowa Democrat Tom Harkin. If they retain control of the House of Representatives, they would gain considerable leverage in dealing with Democratic President Barack Obama. But the party’s path to victory is complicated by the conflict between the moderate “establishment” wing and the conservative Tea Party movement, with a number of conservative challengers running in primaries against moderate incumbent senators. Rural Iowa’s convoluted process of caucuses starts on Tuesday, with political analysts viewing them as an early test of the strength of the conservative movement, well ahead of the primary election battles that are set to take place in more than half a dozen states.

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