No Joy For Tea Party In Early Round Of GOP Primaries, Including N. Carolina

The Republican establishment is breathing a collective sigh of relief after Tuesday’s victory by Thom Tillis – speaker of the House in North Carolina – in the state’s GOP primary for US Senate.

Speaker Tillis won 46 percent of the vote, beating seven other competitors, including two insurgent candidates with high-profile support. By topping 40 percent, Tillis avoids a divisive, costly runoff in July. He can now focus immediately on defeating freshman Sen. Kay Hagan (D), one of the Democrats’ most vulnerable senators in the November elections.

“Tillis is definitely the most electable among the field,” says Republican strategist Ford O’Connell. “But it’s not time to pop the champagne. Kentucky and Georgia are next.”

In the Kentucky primary, on May 20, Senate minority leader Mitch McConnell (R) looks set to defeat his tea party challenger, businessman Matt Bevin. But in Georgia, also on May 20, the GOP primary for the seat held by retiring Sen. Saxby Chambliss (R) features a crowded field with no clear frontrunner – and appears headed for a July runoff. Some of the candidates are far-right conservatives with a history of making provocative statements. The Democrats have a strong likely nominee in nonprofit CEO Michelle Nunn.

Republicans need a net gain of six seats to take over the Senate, and can ill-afford to lose any seats they currently hold. The GOP establishment is also loathe to see the party squander pickup opportunities by nominating undisciplined or hard-line candidates who make comments that turn off general election voters.

Read more from Linda Feldmann at The Christian Science Monitor 

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