Cantor face Tea Party challenges in Republican primaries
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[June 10, 2014]
By John Whitesides
WASHINGTON (Reuters) - U.S. Senator
Lindsey Graham of South Carolina and House Majority Leader Eric Cantor
of Virginia are favored to fend off Tea Party challengers in Republican
primaries on Tuesday, when voters in five states pick candidates for the
Nov. 4 midterm elections.
The Graham and Cantor showdowns are the latest in a series of
primary clashes between the conservative Tea Party movement and the
Republican establishment this year. The Tea Party is seeking its
first high-profile win after a string of losses.
It came close last week in Mississippi, when Tea Party favorite
Chris McDaniel fell just short of the majority needed for an
outright win but forced six-term U.S. Senator Thad Cochran into a
June 24 run-off.
Graham, a prominent foreign policy hawk who has angered some
conservatives for his willingness to work with Democrats, hopes to
avoid a run-off with the second-place finisher by capturing 50
percent of the vote in his crowded South Carolina primary.
He has moved aggressively to beat back a challenge from the right,
touting his conservative credentials and spending more than $8.5
million since January 2013 in preparation for a primary race,
according to fundraising figures compiled by the Center for
A Clemson University poll last week showed Graham within reach of
victory with about 49 percent of the likely primary vote and
one-third of voters still undecided. That puts him well ahead of any
of his six Tea Party challengers, who say Graham is not conservative
enough, though they all languish in single digits.
The South Carolina field of challengers to Graham, a two-term U.S.
senator, includes a minister, two lawyers and a state senator who
gave away a handgun at a campaign event.
Cantor, the No. 2 Republican in the U.S. House of Representatives,
also has been accused of not being conservative enough by his Tea
Party challenger, David Brat, an economics professor at
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Like Graham, Cantor has responded aggressively and recently sent
voters in his central Virginia district a mailer boasting of his
efforts to kill House immigration legislation that would have
offered what he called amnesty to undocumented workers.
Cantor spent $5 million during this election cycle, according to the
Center for Responsive Politics. Brat spent about $122,000 during the
The Graham and Cantor races highlight Tuesday's primary voting.
Virginia will also host another crowded primary battle in the
heavily Democratic suburbs of Washington D.C., where seven
candidates are seeking to replace retiring Democratic U.S.
Representative Jim Moran.
Primaries are also scheduled on Tuesday in Maine, Nevada and North
(Reporting by John Whitesides; Editing by Dan Grebler)
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