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The post-election war for the soul of the GOP is heating up, and it is going to be ugly

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Staffers and members of the House Freedom Caucus have groused quietly for months that Ryan and his allies have been planning the neutering of the political power of the conservative wing of the House  — since long before Trump was even the nominee.

Rep. Paul Ryan, R- Wis., speaks at a news conference following a House Republican meeting, Tuesday, Oct. 20, 2015, on Capitol Hill in Washington. Ryan told GOP lawmakers that he will run for speaker, but only if they embrace him by week's end as their consensus candidate, an ambitious bid to impose unity on a disordered and divided House. (AP Photo/Andrew Harnik)

While everyone in the media is focused on the Nov. 8 election, many Republicans are already jockeying for positions of party leadership in anticipation of a victory by Democratic presidential nominee Hillary Clinton. Assuming Republican Donald Trump loses, as he is widely favored to do, a number of important contests will determine the future and direction of the Republican Party in a post-Trump world.

The first of these is the election for the next speaker of the House — assuming, of course that Republicans keep the House majority. CNN reports that "pro-Trump" GOP forces are planning a challenge to remove Speaker Paul Ryan (Wis.) and/or deny him the 218 votes he needs to win on the first ballot. According to CNN, the conservative House Freedom Caucus is angry at Ryan for failing to demonstrate sufficient loyalty to Trump.

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