Tea Party candidates were universally trounced in yesterday’s GOP primaries.
Last night, Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell decisively beat his tea party challenger by 24 percentage points. It’s the latest big beat for the tea party, and further proof of a growing trend. While the tea party has been successful when pushing candidates to the right in open seat Republican primaries, they haven’t had any luck kicking out GOP incumbents this year. And they really haven’t come close. In Idaho on Tuesday, Rep. Mike Simpson easily beat his tea party opponent Bryan Smith. Texas Sen. John Cornyn, former chairman of the National Republican Senatorial Committee, won 59 percent of the vote in his March primary. His closest challenger, Rep. Steve Stockman — who vanished to Russia for part of the campaign — won 19 percent of the vote. Dwayne Stovall, who’s claim to fame is his “Turtle Soup” campaign ad, won 11 percent of the vote. In Georgia, former secretary of state Karen Handel, endorsed by Sarah Palin, Ted Cruz and a handful of conservative organizations, did not make it into the Republican primary runoff. Reps. Phil Gingrey and Paul Broun, also tea party favorites, weren’t even close to making the run-off.
Despite all their losses, pundits agree that Tea Party candidates did succeed in pulling relatively mainstream Republicans further to the right.