How an intra-party debate on immigration will impact the 2014 landscape is an open question. One House Republican familiar with the thinking of the candidates calls the legalization provisions contained in the principles released by House leadership “ludicrous and insulting” and tells me that, ahead of the 2014 midterms, the candidates themselves worry that “the whole effort will do nothing but provoke a scorched-earth, bloody civil war in the GOP, the only victor of which will be the Democratic party.” Another House Republican tells me, via text message, that the “general feeling” is that “getting into immigration will hurt Senate takeover chances.” National Republican Senatorial Committee spokesman Brad Dayspring, on the other hand, doesn’t see the issue having much of an impact. “Polling shows (immigration) is not an issue with huge resonance and each candidate will handle in the appropriate way for their constituents,” he says.

Leadership aides have suggested that House Speaker John Boehner won’t push legislation until after primary filing deadlines, but some say that raising the issue at all right now will make primary fights more contentious than they already are. “It’s not good in general to have an ongoing civil war in our party when you’re trying to unify the party, trying to get people to knock on doors and make phone calls,” says a GOP member.