In the wake of former House Majority Leader Eric Cantor’s primary loss to challenger Dave Brat in Virginia, many rushed to herald a Tea Party sea change sweeping across primaries in 2014. Results from Tuesday’s electoral battles across the nation seem to indicate otherwise. The Washington Post reports:
Sen. Thad Cochran (R) narrowly survived the toughest election of his four-decade political career, holding off an insurgent tea party challenge from state Sen. Chris McDaniel in Tuesday night’s runoff after one of the most expensive and nasty primary campaigns of the year.
The contest between the entrenched Cochran and the more combative and youthful McDaniel divided the Republican Party here in one of the nation’s most conservative states and delivered a stinging blow to the tea party movement.
Cochran ran an effective ground game, mobilizing black Democrats to turn out for the open runoff election. He leveraged his years of experience and “long history of procuring largess for this poor state.”
Unlike Cantor, Cochran fought to keep his seat and did not take his district for granted. The “nail-baiter” results indicate that McDaniel and his Tea Party supporters fought hard as well. But it was not quite enough to pull off another Cantor-esque upset.
The Tea Party faced other loses Tuesday as well, as the Post reports:
In Oklahoma, Rep. James Lankford won the Republican Senate nomination, easily defeating state House speaker T.W. Shannon, who is half black and half Native American and was backed by Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Tex.) and some tea party groups.
In Colorado, former congressman Bob Beauprez won the Republican nomination to challenge Gov. John Hickenlooper (D) this fall. Beauprez, the party establishment favorite, beat a field of candidates that included former congressman Tom Tancredo, a vocal anti-immigration activist.
Time will provide more data for analysis. However, the immediate indication is that Cantor’s defeat did not herald the sea change which many hoped for and others feared.
(Today’s Fightin Words podcast on this topic. 10:45 minutes long; 10.39 MB file size. Want to download instead of streaming? Right click here to download this show to your hard drive. Subscribe through iTunes or RSS feed.)