Nearly every Republican candidate running for Senate in 2014 backs the GOP’s push to use the threat of a government shutdown to defund ObamaCare — a sign of how popular they believe the plan is with conservative primary voters

Reps. Tom Cotton (Ark.), Paul Broun (Ga.), Phil Gingrey (Ga.), Jack Kingston (RGa.), Bill Cassidy (R-La.), likely candidate Steve Daines (Mont.), and Shelley Moore Capito (W.Va.) all voted Friday for a House continuing resolution to fund the government until mid-December while defunding ObamaCare…

“There is no downside to coming out against defunding ObamaCare if you’re a Senate candidate,” said longtime GOP strategist Ron Bonjean…

“You’re not part of Washington and you’re talking about people in Washington being part of the problem. Most primary voters will nod their heads and say ‘this makes a lot of sense.’ They’re not thinking about the byzantine political spider webs that occur from trying to make that work.”

***

“It’s clear where the public in my district is,” said Rep. Jim Bridenstine (R-Okla.), a tea party firebrand. “They want Obamacare repealed. They want it defunded. They want it dismantled.”…

“This is all a result of redistricting,” a Republican strategist told me. “The only election these guys have to worry about is the Republican primary. The only danger they face is from the right.”

According to ratings compiled by Larry Sabato of the University of Virginia, only 28 of the House’s 233 Republicans have even a theoretical chance of losing their seats to a Democrat next year; the other 205 are safe as long as they win their primaries. (The same is true of most House Democrats, of course.)

Outside the conservative bubble of the House GOP conference, the politics of the budget standoff look different. Karl Rove, former political advisor to George W. Bush, has warned that the only winner in a government shutdown would be Obama. “This is one thing that can rescue him,” Rove said on Fox News.

***

For Republicans who aren’t part of the defunding drive, it was a jaw-dropping proposal. We’re supposed to filibuster our own bill? they ask. We pushed the House to pass a continuing resolution with a defunding measure attached — and now we’re supposed to kill it in the Senate? What sense does that make? And even if it made sense, they say, the plan is simply not possible.

That response has caused deep resentment among defunding proponents. No, they aren’t proposing filibustering their own bill. “What we are filibustering is a procedural maneuver by Reid so that he will not be able to gut the bill that we want a vote on,” says the aide.

“Our demand is for Reid to do one of two things,” the aide continues. “Either agree that all amendments post-cloture have a 60-vote threshold, or bring the amendment up pre-cloture. McConnell can demand those things.” Translated into less insidery language, that basically means forcing Reid to adopt a procedure that would allow Republicans, if they stay united, to stop Reid from taking out the Obamacare provision.

The only problem is that Republicans, in the minority, cannot force Reid to do that. “It would require UNANIMOUS consent to change the vote threshold,” says one aide opposed to the defunding maneuver. “You really think Reid, Schumer, Bernie Sanders are all going to agree to make it EASY to strip Obamacare? Give me a break. And what leverage will they [the defunders] have to ‘force’ that? They will have just filibustered their own bill and shut down the government. They will be solely responsible for shutting down the government. Why would a single Democrat lift a finger to help them — much less give away Obamacare?”

***

***

In an appearance on Washington D.C.’s Fox 5 to preview his Sunday show, Wallace said, “I will tell you I have never in my time in Washington seen a party so upset with one of its own members.”…

“Since we announced that Ted Cruz was going to be on the show, I’ve been getting background research and questions going after Cruz not from Democrats but from other Republicans,” Wallace said on Fox 5. “They really feel he has put them in this corner that they can’t get out of gracefully and they’re not very happy with him.”

***

***

Those of us who hang in there supporting a major political party with our energy, time, and contributions would like to believe that that party would praise principled conservatives like Ted Cruz and Mike Lee for following through on campaign promises. We’d like to believe that the GOP establishment would applaud the way these bold leaders have rallied the grassroots to their cause. But, no, such praise would require a commensurate level of guts and leadership, and the permanent political class in D.C. is nothing if not gutless and rudderless.

We’re now, once again, subjected to the “anonymous sources” backstabbing game. The Capitol Hill cowards are rushing to anonymously denounce Senator Cruz to any reporter with a pad and pen.

Welcome to our world, Ted. The same people have been denouncing conservatives like me for years (right after they ask for help fundraising for themselves or endorsing the latest candidate they’ve suckered into paying their exorbitant consulting fees). We can compare shiv marks next time we meet, my friend.

If the Senate doesn’t get behind Ted Cruz’s efforts to defund Obamacare, it won’t be because of any failure on Ted’s part. It’ll be because there weren’t enough principled leaders to stand with him, and that would be a tragic loss, not for Ted, but for America.

***

[Rand] Paul said Republicans still expect members to fight the law, which national polls show only about a third of Americans support.

“I’m acknowledging we can’t probably defeat or get rid of Obamacare,” he said. “But by starting with our position of not funding it, maybe we get to a position where we make it less bad.”

Some Senate Republicans, including would-be 2016 presidential rivals Ted Cruz of Texas and Marco Rubio of Florida, have said they would vote to refuse to pay for the health care law, even if it meant shutting down portions of the government. Paul has called closing down the government “a dumb idea.”

***

“You say this is brute political power,” a very-unconvinced Wallace said. “It’s Senate Rule 22, which has been around for years. It’s part of the Senate rules, and it says after you allow debate and take cloture, that you can pass an amendment by Senate majority. That’s the rule!”

“You’re right, that is one rule,” Cruz responded. “But there is another rule that says it takes sixty votes to get cloture…If the majority’s going to run the minority over with a train, the minority has the ability to stop them…Any vote for cloture, any vote to allow Harry Reid to add funding for Obamacare with just a fifty-one vote threshold—a vote for cloture is a vote for ObamaCare.”

“If Harry Reid kills this bill in the Senate, I think the House should hold its ground and should begin passing smaller continuing resolutions one department at a time,” Cruz said. “It should start with a continuing resolution focused on the military. Fund the military, send it over, and let’s see if Harry Reid is willing to shut down the military just because he wants to force ObamaCare on the American people.”

***

Visit NBCNews.com for breaking news, world news, and news about the economy

***

Oklahoma senator Tom Coburn, known in the president’s first term as “Dr. No” for his tendency to place holds on bills he views as unconstitutional or otherwise objectionable, is not on board with the push to defund Obamacare. The reason? “We do not have the political power to do this,” he said on Sunday. He chocked the existence of the movement, led in the Senate by Republican senators Ted Cruz and Mike Lee, to a ”tremendous demand among special interests” to dismantle the president’s signature legislation.

Coburn, a physician, maintained that Republicans will not allow a government sutdown over the issue of Obamacare and, more importantly, simply do not have the votes to do so. ”We are not about to shut the government down over the fact that we cannot, only controlling one house of Congress, tell the president that we are not going to fund any portion of this, because we can’t do that,” he told CBS’ Bob Schieffer.