It was not the best of nights for Tea Party candidates nationally, as the Republican Establishment fought off challengers in a series of races for U.S. House and Senate, with voters in six states again refusing to knock out any incumbents in the Congress.
1. Georgia goes for the Establishment
In the Republican race for U.S. Senate in Georgia, voters in the Peach State relegated two more conservative members of Congress to the back of the pack, ignored an endorsement by Sarah Palin of a third candidate, and embraced two Republicans that were not the Tea Party favorites, as David Perdue and Rep. Jack Kingston will be in a runoff July 22 for the GOP Senate nomination. Kingston was strong in the south of Georgia, where he is from, but a bit weak in the Atlanta metro area and northern Georgia. He can’t repeat that in July and expect to win.
2. Georgia Democrats Nunn too pleased
Democrats had hoped that either Rep. Paul Broun or Rep. Phil Gingrey of Georgia would catch fire in the Republican Senate race and give the GOP a Todd Akin-type candidate for November – but that didn’t happen. The Perdue-Kingston runoff is certainly not the recipe that Democrats had envisioned, and does not give a great opening to Senate nominee Michelle Nunn, daughter of former Sen. Sam Nunn. Nunn the Daughter now has time to get her campaign in order for November, but the Tea Party failure and the small turnout for Democrats on Tuesday makes it an uphill climb right now.
3. McConnell wins easily in Kentucky
After a lot of internal GOP jabs, Sen. Mitch McConnell easily dispatched Tea Party opponent Matt Bevin in the Kentucky GOP Senate race. McConnell moved quickly to publicly offer an olive branch to Tea Party groups, urging Bevin supporters to join him in opposing the Obama health law and more – and some of the same groups who had attacked the Senate GOP Leader in recent months quickly issued statements of support for the top Republican in the U.S. Senate. McConnell’s race in November is expected to be tight against Democrat Allison Grimes, and any divide in the Bluegrass State could be lethal for the GOP Leader.
4. Incumbents in Congress win again
The month of May is almost over and no member of Congress has been tossed out of office by primary voters in either party so far in 2014. Tea Party challenges fizzled to Rep. Mike Simpson (R-ID) and Rep. Bill Shuster (R-PA), while Rep. Hank Johnson (D-GA) survived a difficult challenge as well. The next best chance for a sitting lawmaker to be defeated is next Tuesday, when 90 year old Rep. Ralph Hall (R-TX) faces a runoff in the Lone Star State. So far, 42 House members won’t be back next January, along with 7 Senators.
5. Setbacks for Hillary & the Obama health law
An appearance by Hillary Clinton did not help ex-Rep. Marjorie Margolies (D-PA), as she lost a Democratic primary for Congress in the Keystone State. Margolies lost her seat back in 1994 after she cast the deciding vote for a budget deal backed by President Clinton; she has family ties to the Clintons, as her son is married to Chelsea. Voters in Pennsylvania also soundly rejected Rep. Allyson Schwartz (D-PA), who fully embraced the Obama health law in her bid for Governor, but she didn’t come close to the top spot on the Democratic side, as businessman Tom Wolf will take on Gov. Tom Corbett (R).