The GOP Goes Pragmatic In 2014

Did Mitch McConnell keep his word and bury the tea party?

The overwhelming victory of McConnell himself — the embodiment of the Republican establishment — over tea party-aligned Matt Bevin in the Kentucky Republican Senate primary would suggest so. So, many would say, did the victory by Thom Tillis, North Carolina’s speaker of the House, in the Republican primary to take on incumbent Kay Hagan. Tea party Senate candidates in Georgia and Colorado have been vanquished as well.

But most expect Tillis will earn tea party support when the dust clears, and Georgians are expected to line up behind their eventual nominee as well. Chris McDaniel in Mississippi, a tea party challenger to Thad Cochran, who has been in the Senate since 1978, could well win. And David Dewhurst, an establishment Republican stalwart, could lose his job as lieutenant governor of Texas if present trends continue. 

This is disturbing not to Republicans but to Democratic operatives and their friends in the media. As Robert Costa and Phillip Rucker wrote in The Washington Post, “Democrats were left disappointed” with Tuesday’s primary results, as “GOP Senate candidates prone to making controversial statements lost to better-financed, more disciplined rivals with the potential to capi­tal­ize on Obama’s unpopularity and the troubles with his signature health-care law.”

That is, candidates who can win won, and candidates prone to blow it blew it.

Read more from Ford O'Connell at U.S. News & World Report

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Analysis & Political Strategy