Election 2014

Romney Republicanism, U.S. Chamber of Commerce Triumph in May 2014 Primaries


The results are in from Tuesday's state primary elections. Six states—Arkansas, Georgia, Idaho, Kentucky, Oregon, and Pennsylvania—held primaries yesterday, with Republican races overwhelmingly leading to triumph for moderate and incumbent candidates over anti-establishment and Tea Party types.

In Kentucky, Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell beat Tea Party-backed candidate Matt Bevin by 24 percentage points. In Idaho's Republican House primary, Rep. Mike Simpson—backed by the U.S. Chamber of Commerce and House Speaker John Boehner—defeated Tea Party challenger Bryan Smith.

Mitt Romney-backed candidates were victorious in both Pennsylvania and Oregon, with incumbent Rep. Bill Shuster (R-Pennvylania) defeating retired Coast Guard Captain Art Halvorson and Oregon moderate Monica Wehby winning her bid for GOP candidate for U.S. Senate.

And in Georgia, Republicans narrowed a crowded Senate primary field, with management consultant and Reebok CEO David Perdue and incumbent Rep. Jack Kingston coming out on top (they'll face each other now in a July runoff). Losers included Sarah Palin-endorsed candidate Karen Handel and several far-right candidates. 

"In 2014, the tea party insurrection is starting to look more like the Boston Massacre," Politico's Alexander Burns quipped. The New Yorker noted that Karl Rove was smiling last night. Buzzfeed's McKay Coppins called the GOP elections a win for "Romney Republicanism," noting that Mitt Romney had endorsed victors Simpson, Shuster, and Wehby. 

[For Romney allies] it is vindicating to see midterm candidates win while touting his endorsement, and adopting, to various extents, his trademark strain of corporate, practical conservatism. Wehby's candidacy, in particular, is reminiscent of Romney's 1994 Massachusetts Senate bid—a young, articulate political newcomer running in a blue state by touting private-sector credentials and a center-left position on abortion. (Wehby says she is personally opposed to abortion, but doesn't believe the federal government should restrict access to it.)

The Washington Post said the real winner yesterday was the U.S. Chamber of Commerce. The pro-business organization has been aggressively working to weaken Tea Party influence in the Republican party and prop-up more business-as-usual friendly candidates: 

The country's largest business lobby broke with tradition over the past year by taking sides in Republican primary election contests, spending millions to back establishment candidates against tea party challengers.

The Chamber has spent more than $12 million in races around the country and came through Tuesday night's primaries with an undefeated record. 

An anonymous Republican operative told National Journal that "the tea party as a brand is dead in general elections," and "on death's door in primaries."

But at The Atlantic, David A. Graham is skeptical

So here's what this tells us about the Tea Party-establishment war, and what my colleague Molly Ball calls The Dynamic, the national theme that explains all races: Probably not much. What it shows is that it's not enough to challenge an incumbent from the right in a red state. It's not even enough for the incumbent to be very vulnerable. The two cases where Tea Party candidates unseated sitting senators—Mike Lee in Utah and Richard Mourdock in Indiana—have come when the incumbent was caught off-guard and the challenger was a strong candidate.

Thirteen states and D.C. have now held primary elections in 2014. Earlier this month, Tea Party candidates suffered losses in Ohio and North Carolina primaries.


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  1. It is true. The primary election in Idaho was an unmitigated clusterfuck. Most of the big government assholes won at the statewide level, including the AG whose office filed an amicus brief against Heller (but claims that was just done by accident). Some of the most free-market incumbents in the state legislature lost, while only a few new pro-liberty candidates prevailed. The establishment weathered the storm stirred up by the liberty movement in the last few elections, and this year the insiders came back and simply out-spent the liberty candidates by a wide margin.

  2. Is it any wonder, given the relentless pounding the entire TEA party brand has been subject to, since its 2010 shellacking of the media’s darlings in the democrap party?
    The demonization of the TEA idea has even gone to the point that democrap shills, like Debbie Blabbermouth Schultz and Van Jones, with the usual media parrots, claiming that the TEA party actually WON the fight within the GOP and represents the candidates that will be up for election in 2014. I guess they figure that the low-info types, that are so pissed at Oblamocare will be more afraid of having a bunch of small government, low taxation types running the country. Pathetic!

  3. Yet another blow to Reason’s delusional “libertarian era.” No surprise to any remaining genuine libertarians of the 70s and 80s. The predictable outcome of anti-gubmint slogans devoid of a single policy proposal.

    Once upon a time, libertarians wisely adhered to the principle of “always be pro-liberty, never be anti-government.” And we won elections that way.

    For most of last year we were told, with breathless excitement, that we are in a libertarian moment, perhaps a libertarian era! But in early January of this year we were told that last year was one of the worst for libertarianism … by the same editor who’d been claiming the exact opposite last year.

    So far, this year looks to be even worse for us. Americans are equally disgusted by both of today’s dominant parties and ideologies, but we STILL can’t make any progress! We have nothing to offer. Nothing concrete. Nothing but anti-gubmint slogans.

    Enhanced liberty would enrich families in every income, racial and ethnic group. But listen closely; nobody is telling that story. Do they even know how any more?

    Rand Paul got a great reception at Berkeley, but what happens when they discover his extreme social conservatism, as boasted on his Senate home page? As bad as his father’s?

    Libertarian policies COULD save America, if we had any. “Git gubmint out of it” ain’t gonna achieve a damn thing, for the same reason that it never has.

    1. “And we won elections that way.” what elections were those?

      1. Umm, the elections won by libertarians. That’s how we won. Twice in my case, plus a successful local tax revolt … since libertarians have been the majority for over 30 years now.

        Do you seriously claim that being anti-gubmint has more voter appeal than selling the blessings and advantages of enhanced individual and collective liberty? “Sell the sizzle not the steak” has been Salesmanship 101 for well over a half century now.

        There is a libertarian era, and it began over 30 years ago, but we (as a group) suck at capitalizing on that majority. We’d rather preach to our own choir.

  4. Probably improved Team Red’s chances of taking the Senate. Also probably reduced chances of any shrinking of government.

    1. Agree, I just hope for continued divided “gubmint”. As long as one team doesn’t control both legislative branches and the Big House it lessens the possibility of colassal fuck ups like Obummercare.

      The shrieking of Salonistas and progtards about a do nothing Congress is music to my ears (in this iteration, twas the same when the shoe was on other feet).

      1. Can you REALLY imagine any fuckups worse than Dubya’s? Do you know how “divided” government under Bush started looting the income tax to pay for Medicare … and TOTALLY increase the fraud within the Medicare Trust Fund?

        Do you know that Medicare now takes roughly 25% of the entire personal income tax … over $2000 billion per year … instead of depleting the Trust Fund … all thanks to Bush and his GOP cronies who conspired with the Democrats to screw us over royally?

  5. colOssal…my bad.

  6. There’s only so long you can let the inmates run the asylum.

  7. long live the Plutocracy.

  8. “…the U.S. Chamber of Commerce. The pro-business organization has been aggressively working to weaken Tea Party influence in the Republican party and prop-up more business-as-usual friendly candidates:” Yes “business as usual” has worked out so well for everyone (sarc).

    1. Don’t blame the Chamber for the Tea Party’s failure to present a coherent policy vision. Or even incoherent!

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