Coasts To Kentucky Win, Tea Party Falls In Key Primaries
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[May 21, 2014]
By John Whitesides
WASHINGTON (Reuters) - Republican Senate
leader Mitch McConnell easily beat a Tea Party primary challenger in
Kentucky on Tuesday, setting up one of November's most expensive and
hard-fought Senate races against Democrat Alison Lundergan Grimes.
Establishment-backed Republicans also swept away Tea Party rivals
in Georgia and Oregon, extending the establishment's winning streak
against the Tea Party and bolstering Republican chances of retaking
the Senate in November.
McConnell's decisive victory over conservative businessman Matt
Bevin headlined the busiest election night of the year so far, as
voters in six states picked candidates for November elections that
will decide which party controls Congress.
Republicans need to gain six seats to recapture Senate control and
party leaders have waged a successful effort to avoid divisive
primaries that produced weak candidates and helped cost them Senate
races in 2010 and 2012.
Senate candidates backed by the party establishment won races
earlier this year against the Tea Party in Texas and North Carolina.
McConnell had been targeted by Tea Party and conservative groups
that accused him of not doing enough to block President Barack
Obama's agenda in the Senate, but Bevin's political inexperience
showed in a series of campaign-trail missteps, including his
attendance at a rally supporting cockfighting.
McConnell quickly turned to the general election fight against
Grimes, who won the Democratic nomination against nominal
opposition, and linked her to Obama and Senate Democratic leader
"Alison Lundergan Grimes is Barack Obama's candidate," McConnell
told supporters at a Kentucky victory party. "There isn't a dime's
worth of difference between a candidate who puts Harry Reid in
charge and Harry Reid himself."
McConnell won about 60 percent of the primary vote.
In Georgia, businessman David Perdue and U.S. Representative Jack
Kingston were the top two finishers in a crowded Senate primary,
beating more conservative Tea Party candidates to qualify for a July
22 runoff for the right to face Democrat Michelle Nunn. The runoff
was needed because no candidate finished with more than 50 percent
of the vote.
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In the Republican Senate primary in Oregon, moderate Monica Wehby
beat a Tea Party-backed state representative for the nomination to
face Democratic Senator Jeff Merkley. Problems with the state's
healthcare exchange have given Republicans hope of victory in the
U.S. Representative Bill Shuster in Pennsylvania and U.S.
Representative Mike Simpson in Idaho also defeated Tea Party
challengers in Republican House primaries.
Pennsylvania businessman Tom Wolf beat U.S. Representative Allyson
Schwartz to win the nomination to challenge Republican Governor Tom
Corbett in what will be one of November's top gubernatorial races.
Former congresswoman Marjorie Margolies, Chelsea Clinton's
mother-in-law, lost her bid to return to Congress from Pennsylvania
despite an appearance on her behalf by former President Bill
In Arkansas, Democrat Mike Ross and Republican Asa Hutchinson won
the nominations to face off in what is expected to be a competitive
(Editing by Alistair Bell, Andre Grenon, Ken Wills and Matt
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