In a big day for primary elections around the country Tuesday, tea-party candidates failed in their efforts to unseat establishment Republicans, who handily secured GOP nominations for U.S. Senate.
Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., trounced the leading tea-party challenger, businessman Matt Bevin, in his effort to secure the GOP nomination for Senate.
Leading up to the primary election, Bevin trailed McConnell by double digits. McConnell enjoyed a substantial cash advantage. Meanwhile, Kentucky Secretary of State Alison Lundergan Grimes, a Democrat, easily won her primary election.
In Georgia, a second closely watched Senate race, six candidates sought the Republican nomination to fill the seat of retiring Sen. Saxby Chambliss, R-Ga.
Rep. Jack Kingston, R-Ga., and businessman David Perdue, backed by the GOP establishment, led the group and now face a July 22 runoff. Georgia requires election winners to capture more than 50 percent of the vote.
Former Georgia Secretary of State Karen Handel, who received an endorsement from former GOP presidential candidate Rick Santorum, fell behind Kingston and Perdue. Democrat Michelle Nunn handily won her party’s primary with more than 75 percent of the vote.
The tea-party candidates, Reps. Paul Broun, R-Ga., and Phil Gingrey, R-Ga., finished near the bottom of the field, each with less than 10 percent of the vote.
In Pennsylvania, it was a young state lawmaker, 37-year-old Brendan Boyle, who came out on top in a race for the Democratic nomination for Congress, defeating Chelsea Clinton’s mother-in-law, Marjorie Margolies.
Margolies had obtained endorsements from President Bill Clinton and Hillary Clinton, but with nearly 57 percent of the precincts reporting, Boyle was ahead 58.5 percent to 22.4 percent over Margolies. Valerie Arkoosh and Daylin Leach also ran in the race and had about 10 and 8 percent of the vote each.
Margolies, 71, got a push from the Clintons. Her son, Marc Mezvinsky, married Chelsea Clinton in July 2010 and they are expecting a baby this fall.
Boyle will face Republican Dee Adcock in the safely Democratic district this November.
In the governor’s race, Gov. Tom Corbett, considered to be among the most vulnerable Republicans in races this year, will face off against York businessman Tom Wolf, who earned the Democratic nomination with 54 percent of the vote with part of the precincts reporting.
Democratic Rep. Allyson Schwartz had 23 percent of the vote and also-rans include state Treasurer Rob McCord ad former state Environmental Protection Secretary Katie McGinty.
Some polls have shown Corbett trailing Wolf for the general election, even though no Pennsylvania governor has lost re-election since a 1960s change in the state constitution allowed candidates to seek second terms.
Wolf reported put $10 million in personal money toward his campaign.
The fight in Oregon was over the state’s U.S. Senate seat, where the tea-party support was split between state Rep. Jason Conger and pediatric neurosurgeon Monica Wehby who faced headwinds of her own making in recent days.
In the end, Wehby easily defeated Conger, so she’ll meet incumbent Sen. Jeff Merkley, D-Ore., in the November face-off.
Wehby had held a lead in the polls for a large part of the campaign, but in recent days it was revealed that a former boyfriend had accused her of harassment, and an ex-husband reported she was being physically abusive.
The state has an all-mail election.
Conger garnered endorsements from Oregon Right to Life and the Oregon Firearms Federation while Wehby got support from Mitt Romney and Newt Gingrich, as well as Dr. Ben Carson, a tea-party favorite.
In Idaho, there were two key races pitting a tea-party challenger against an establishment Republican, led by the governor’s race.
Incumbent Gov. C.L. “Butch” Otter was facing a tea-party challenge from state Sen. Russ Fulcher, and Otter was holding a solid lead late into the evening hours.
Two other candidates were on the ballot, Walt Baves and Harley Brown, who were described by critics as “Bible expert Walt Baves” and “Harley-Davidson enthusiast Harley Brown.”
Given Idaho’s strong GOP roots, its Republican candidates rarely face powerful headwinds in general elections, so the GOP primary often is the decision-maker for the election year.
Fulcher called for Otter to depart because of his support for an Obamacare-related state health-care exchange.
In the state’s 2nd congressional district, tea-party favorite attorney Bryan Smith challenged Rep. Mike Simpson, a Republican with 16 years in Congress.
Simpson, who was endorsed by the National Rifle Association, was victorious, and is expected to be the overwhelming favorite in the fall’s general election.
In Arkansas, Democrat Mark Pryor and Republican Tom Cotton were uncontested in their primary races.