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Wednesday, October 26, 2016

By Michael A. Memoli and Lisa Mascaro, Tribune Washington Bureau

WASHINGTON — Incumbent Republicans cruised to victory in key primary elections Tuesday, offering fresh evidence that the party’s establishment wing has successfully neutralized outside conservative groups that have vexed congressional leaders since the rise of the Tea Party.

In Kentucky, Senator Mitch McConnell, the party’s leader in the Senate, easily won renomination for a sixth term over challenger Matt Bevin, who had hoped to tap into Tea Party activists’ distrust of GOP leaders in Washington. McConnell was leading the Louisville businessman 60 percent to 36 percent late Tuesday with nearly all of the state’s precincts reporting.

McConnell now faces what will probably be a more significant challenge in the general election from Kentucky Secretary of State Alison Lundergan Grimes, who glided to the Democratic nomination.

In Idaho, as in Kentucky, an effort by conservative groups to unseat an establishment ally of House Speaker John A. Boehner (R-OH) fizzled. Rep. Mike Simpson defeated his Tea-Party-funded challenger, Bryan Smith, with help from a late infusion of outside spending from groups such as the U.S. Chamber of Commerce.

Another key GOP primary was the open Senate seat in Georgia, where the crowded field ensured a July runoff. The most conservative candidates, however, failed to advance.

Tuesday’s balloting in six states marked the busiest primary election date yet this year, and the latest to produce disappointing results for Tea Party forces. Candidate Ben Sasse’s victory in last week’s Nebraska Senate primary stands as one of the few Tea Party successes this year, but came in an open-seat contest in which multiple candidates had claimed the conservative mantle.

Despite the early successes in primaries, Republican leaders were reluctant to openly celebrate their victory over the conservative groups they’ve criticized in the past. Boehner told reporters Tuesday that the Tea Party had “brought great energy to our political process.”

“There’s not that big a difference between what you all call the tea party and your average conservative Republican,” he said.

McConnell’s ability to outmaneuver his challenger was emblematic of GOP leaders’ success thus far in curtailing the influence of conservative groups. Considered one of his party’s most astute political strategists, he saw firsthand the Tea Party at its strongest in the 2010 campaign, when Rand Paul easily defeated McConnell’s handpicked GOP candidate to win Kentucky’s other Senate seat.

  • Dominick Vila

    Salivating over the potential demise of veteran Republicans like Mitch McConnell, and then learning that he won by a comfortable majority, does more to demoralize Democrats than highlight the alleged unpopularity of the Tea Party.
    The first thing we must do, if we win to keep the Senate, is understand our opponents, consider the sentiments that prevail among mainstream Americans, and remember that our voting record when it comes to midterm elections is dismal, to put it mildly. Add to that the fact that there are more senators running for re-election in states that lean Republican and what we have in our hands is a recipe for disaster.
    We must highlight the progress we have made, the effects of the disaster we had to overcome, and how our policies have benefited the average American and the nation at large. If we continue to allow Republican and their loyal pundits to dominate the political discourse and undermine everything President Obama does, we are doomed.

  • browninghipower

    The DC Village pundits are basically full of shit as usual. The Tea Party has won for the very reason it has pushed the gop to the Far Right. Anyon with half a brain can see that. When Michael Steele responds to this on MSNBC by arrogantly smirking ‘since when does favoring smaller government, lower taxes, fewer regulations become a canard of far right wing extremism?’ he shows his ignorance and own blindness. The gop hides behind these false chimeras. They are for dismantling government; for destroying safety nets; declaring war on workers; the poor; war on women’s rights; union busting; and two-tiered society. The gop is a far right wing group dedicated to destroying government and pandering to corporations, the 1%, and Christian Fundamentalists. Should they gain control of the Senate the destruction to the social fabric will be so severe that it will take generations to repair. Let’s see if that is ever reported by the DC Village idiots.

    • Independent1

      Obama may let them get away with some giveaways, but even if they win the Senate, they won’t have enough of a majority to override Obama’s vetoes; so it’s my sense that even should that happen, 2015 and 2016 will be little different than the previous 6 years of intransigence except that the GOP won’t be able to hide behind the Senate blocking the nonsense legislation the House has been passing.

      In fact, my hunch is, should the GOP take over the Senate in 2014, the GOP is going to wish (in 2016) they had never taken the Senate over because their idiocy will be even more exposed to the light of day as Obama highlights for all Americans to see – the stupidity in much of the legislation that the GOP has been wasting millions of dollars passing in the House for the past 6 years in their efforts to “make Obama fail”; which has resulted in the 98% paying by far the biggest price (struggling to make ends meet with many on unemployment) for the GOP’s nonsensical efforts that have kept America from moving forward as it could have these past 5 plus years had the GOP been more cooperative.

  • charleo1

    Conservative voters in opting for establishment candidates, like Mitch McConnell, over the T-Party candidate Matt Bevin, in the Republican primary in Kentucky. Could be a precursor for a GOP constituency, that may have decided political victories are once again more important than purist fringe ideology. In the sometimes the GOP feels like a nut, and sometimes, if developing trends hold, they don’t. Is not good news for Democrats, who’s bid to hold on to a majority in the Senate, seems to be hanging by a thread. Most likely, in the hands of the good citizens of N. Carolina, Louisiana, or Arkansas. Bevin, the T-Partier from Kentucky, who seemed ready to throw out the RINO McConnell only a few weeks ago. Was everything a T-Party determined to take back their Country, could ask for. Sufficiently radical, adequately incensed, and as perfectly willing to throw the Middle Class under the bus, in favor of a corporate Plutocracy, as any of the 2010 T-Partiers. Vowing never to succumb to pressure to raise the debt ceiling without serious cuts to spending, and the passage of a Balanced Budget Amendment, added to the Constitution. Which of course, means every economic crisis thereafter, would smash everyone but the rich, squarely in the teeth. Presumably the way the Founders envisioned. I think what Democrats may be seeing, is old habits like slick, sweet talking pols of McConnell’s ilk, are hard for main line GOP voters to break. I hate to put it in such emotional terms. But that’s where most of the Conservative Right have been living. Rather than in a real world, with hard facts. Have laid drunk on denial, with a sort of stop the world and let me off, mentality. Now, in their more sober reflection, it seems, they flirted out of anger at Bush, with the wild crowd. But, now they believe they can learn to trust again. That Bush was a mistake, but a one off. And, there is nothing so blind they say, as being in love with being in love. And Republicans after witnessing the pure lunacy, of the T-Party, are actually not angry insurgents, but a bunch of love sick saps, that really do want to come home again. But remain at a loss of just where exactly home is anymore. That the Republican Party is not the Party it was before the T-Party, and is forever changed by the experience. It is more ideological, more skewed by the enormous amounts of money, and gerrymandered districts, and no longer has some parts of it’s soul it bartered away in those dark days, when one distraught pundit lamented, the brand was laid so low, it couldn’t sell dog food. Remember the clamor for a Party that stopped forcing half liberal RINOS, like Jogn McCain, and Mitt Romney, down the throats of a Party that longed to get back to it’s conservative roots? The T-Party contingent in the House, that wants nothing more than John Boehner’s hide tacked to the wall inside the Republican Caucus? It’s still a force to be reckoned with. And if Republicans manage to gain control of Congress, they will be expected to govern. It could well be a case of being careful what you wish for. The days of no other responsibility than endlessly repealing Obamacare, to the joyous hoots of a carefree, do nothing Congress, would be at an end. And that could set the stage for an even bigger, and more progressive Democratic victory in 2016.

    • sigrid28

      Will the prayers of Democrats be answered? Or is the U.S. on the path to becoming yet another failed state, with rigged elections and a corrupt governing class stealing valuable resources? History is replete with representative governments that have succumbed to wealth and its power brokers: Rome under the “boni” for example. Fewer examples exist, such as the abolition of slavery, to prove that humanitarian values and basic morality have occasionally eclipsed our worst impulses, for no other reason than that they are right. Democrats who want to win in 2014 and 2016 must educate the American public and bring new voters and every Democrat to the polls. Even then, our best hope is to slow down the nation’s free fall into the status of a failed state under Republican leadership, which will only be reinforced if Republicans take over Congress in 2014. Unfortunately, history demonstrates that it is easier to fail the test of democracy than to succeed.

      • charleo1

        It seems the eternal question. Will the prayers of the proponents of democracy be answered in the affirmative? Or will those who maintain that the very idea of democracy is doomed to failure, by the sad nature of it’s participants be proven right once again? Even in America? You were right to think of Lincoln. He asked this question dozens of times, both before, and certainly during the war. I’m sure there were times he was convinced man is irredeemably flawed, and when left to his own devices, in a system of self governance, then inevitably, inherent tendencies like greed, will drive of some of the species to dominate over their fellow humans, and will always force man back to his natural tribal beginnings. So it was that Lincoln, more than any wartime President I think, that constantly challenged his Countrymen to remember, that what we as Americans were attempting to do here, had been tried yes, but never truly achieved. And, he also shared with them his fears that we were at a point that could very well determine if such a radical idea as democracy, so freely applied as we had decided, could ever hope to last very long, without running up against the realities of life. And of our not choosing, “our better angels.” And failing, if we could not bring ourselves, by some higher motivation, to be better than our hairy cousins. And I would think we see the same struggle, and
        tension between those who call on our brethren to be

        • sigrid28

          I was thinking of Lincoln, and also a trilogy of histories by David Brion Davis reviewed March 20, 2014, by Drew Gilpin Faust in “The New York Review of Books”: “The Problem of Slavery in Western Culture” (1966), “The Problem of Slavery in the Age of Revolution, 1770-1823” (1975), and “The Problem of Slavery in the Age of Emancipation” 2014. In a nutshell: “In both Britain and the United States . . . antislavery forces create the conditions for an emancipation that was, as Davis describes it, ‘astonishing. . . . Astonishing in view of the institution’s anitquity. . . , resilience, and importance.” Hailing this example of human beings acting so decisively against both havit and self-interest, Davis proclaims abolition to be ‘the greatest landmark of willed moral progress in human history.’ “

          • charleo1

            Of course, from your lips to God’s ear, as they say. And yet, there is a case to be made, and won, before the kudzu of Plutocratic doctrine may be beaten back. If only by some as yet undiscovered method, we might take by magic, your foundation of knowledge. That by the light of education, that allows you to see clearly how they have colluded to rig the game. How that has continually been their intention. And intend to rig it further, to allow even more of the exploitation, they are as addicted to it as a drug. Yet, truth is frustrated, by their clever arguments, honed over millennia, and geared to the poorly informed, and unsophisticated. Couched in the language of economic progress, espousing the virtues of hard work, and promising there are kingdoms to be won. But only by rejecting the notion we are our brother’s keepers in no other way, but ensuring nothing comes to them without first being purchased by the sweat of their brow, at a market price undiluted by the milk of human kindness. That this is the only way true righteousness, and morality can be found. That even the well meaning Socialist Liberal, cripples, and weakens the working class, with their misconceived conceptions of parity. Better to follow the High Priests, and providers, and sustainers of life itself, the monied aristocracy. Yes, and all with the false promises, believed by enslaved fools, throughout generations of human history. That you too can become a God, if you will only trust us with the power over your futures. The rewards will be infinite!

          • sigrid28

            Republican talking points may sound clever and intelligent, but they fall apart pretty quickly if you poke them even a little bit hard. Then they turn into teachable moments. For example, in Michigan by a landslide of bipartisan votes in its legislature, the Koch brothers’ interference was denounced, saving the pensions of Detroit retirees and protecting the city’s fine arts collection, which still belongs to its citizens. Asking the questions that remind voters of what they like about health care or raising the minimum wage or supporting students from preschool through college, that’s the ticket for Democrats. Democrats of all walks of life can sway the outcome of the 2014 and 2016 elections by exploiting the neighborly minute of talk at a folding card table, while registering voters, one-by-one-by-one. If the campaign’s phone bank can be primed effectively with voter information for callers, we have a chance to help more voters get to the polls all the way up to and through Election Day.

          • charleo1

            That’s the spirit. Here I sat out to try and boost your
            mood, and you end up boosting mine! Thanks!

          • sigrid28

            You are welcome. Let’s both enjoy the Memorial Day Weekend.