Republicans emerge from tea party
By Michael Mathes, AFP
May 22, 2014, 12:03 am TWN
WASHINGTON--Mainstream U.S. Republicans led by Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell defeated tea party challengers in key primaries Tuesday, setting the stage for their bid to regain full control of Congress in November.
Republicans lead the House of Representatives and are determined to wrest the Senate from President Barack Obama's Democrats in this year's mid-term elections.
Voters in six states, from Georgia in the U.S. southeast to the Pacific northwest Oregon, cast ballots on what became known as the "Super Tuesday" of the 2014 campaign. But most eyes were on Kentucky, a key battleground between traditional Republicans and members of the party's more conservative, populist "tea party" wing.
The anti-establishment fervor sweeping much of the country seems not to have taken as strong a hold in Kentucky, and well-funded veteran incumbent McConnell, 72, trounced tea party backed challenger Matt Bevin in one of the most expensive — and closely watched — primaries of 2014.
If he is reelected in November, and if Republicans gain a net six seats in the 100-seat chamber to regain control, McConnell would lead the Senate majority and be positioned to block Obama's legislative efforts in his last two years in the White House.
"Send me back to Washington and Kentucky will always have a champion in the Capitol," McConnell told cheering supporters in his victory speech.
But he faces perhaps the most formidable election challenge of his 30-year Senate career in Democrat Alison Lundergan Grimes, who won her party's primary and immediately set her sites on ousting McConnell.
"Mitch McConnell would have you believe that President Obama is on Kentucky's 2014 election ballot," Grimes told supporters, referring to McConnell warning voters that Grimes would merely be a back-bencher for a president pushing his unpopular health care law and other liberal mandates.
"Senator McConnell, this race is between you and me," the 35-year-old Grimes said. "That's the name that appears on the ballot."
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Arkansas, Georgia, Idaho, Oregon and Pennsylvania also held primaries Tuesday and in all of them, incumbents and establishment-backed candidates prevailed. On June 3, another eight states follow suit.
The entire House, currently held by Republicans, is up for grabs, and analysts expect the party will retain control; the question is whether Democrats can cut into the Republicans' majority.