Wow! I didn't see it coming. The tea party favored candidates were losing to more establishment Republicans in primaries everywhere. Mitch McConnell won handily in Kentucky beating Matt Bevin by 25 points.
In Georgia, tea party favored candidate Karen Handel did not make it
into the run-off. In Oregon, Monica Wehby took 51 percent
of the vote to defeat tea party favored candidate Rep. Jason Conger. In
Idaho, GOP Rep. Mike Simpson easily defeated primary challenger Bryan
Smith who was backed by The Club for Growth and other tea party PAC's. In Mississippi, Thad Cochran was barely beat by tea party favorite State Senator Chris McDaniel but the two will face a rematch in a June 24 run off. In most races the establishment won.
Then last night, in Virginia U.S. House Majority Leader Eric Cantor lost to tea party challenger Dave Brat. Cantor did not barely lose, he lost substantially 44 to 56% of the vote, and he had outspend his challenger considerably. This race was not even on the radar of races to watch. This was a stunning upset. Pundits are saying the thing that beat him was his position on immigration reform and the news in recent days of the thousands of illegal immigrant children flowing across the southern border.
What does this mean for other tea party candidates like Joe Carr who is challenging Lamar Alexander? Cantor is hardly a liberal. He gets an "A" from the American Tax Payers Union, a respectable 80 from American's for Prosperity; a 61% from Heritage Action which is kind of low, but he gets an American Conservative rating of 95%. That is hardly a liberal voting record. Heritage Action gives Lamar a 46, American's for Prosperity gives him a 69, and American Conservative Union a 68. By most measures, Lamar Alexander is less conservative than Eric Cantor.
We have a means to compare Eric Cantor to Lamar Alexander but we have no means to compare the challenger of each. Maybe Cantor's challenger, Dave Brat, was a sensible and accomplished and capable tea party candidate, instead of a nutty fringe and incompetent candidate like Joe Carr. I have always thought Alexander could be venerable if challenged by someone like Ron Ramsey or Senator Mark Green. I don't know the quality of the challenger to Cantor, but I know Joe Carr is not a quality candidate. In any event, the Carr campaign must be feeling energized this morning and the Alexander camp must be concerned that perhaps victory is not assured after all.