thrown into the harbor
Tuesday night's primaries were a series of near-miss defeats for Tea Party insurgent candidates and victories for the Republican establishment — a sharp turnaround from where things were just two weeks ago, when the political world was reeling after the surprise defeat of House Majority Leader Eric Cantor in the Virginia GOP primary.
The most obvious example is the Republican primary runoff in Mississippi, where incumbent Sen. Thad Cochran won with just under 51 percent of the vote — and challenger Chris McDaniel bitterly denounced Cochran and the Republican establishment for having courted Democratic voters to cross over into the GOP primary.
Another example: Oklahoma's open Senate race, where national figures such as Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Texas) and former vice presidential nominee Sarah Palin had endorsed T.W. Shannon, the state House Speaker, who if elected would have been the first African-American U.S. senator from the state. However, many local GOP activists gravitated to Rep. James Lankford, the No. 5 Republican in the House, who has a longstanding base among religious conservatives. Lankford won the nomination outright with 57 percent of the vote, above the 50 percent needed to avoid a runoff, with Shannon far behind at 34 percent.
There were also some near-misses in House races. In New York's 22nd District, two-term Rep. Richard Hanna was opposed by state Assemblywoman Claudia Tenney, who had the backing of conservative groups. Hanna won his race with 53 percent, against Tenney's 47 percent.
And in Colorado's 5th District, four-term Rep. Doug Lamborn was challenged by Bentley Rayburn, a retired Air Force general who previously ran against Lamborn in the open-seat 2006 primary, and challenged him again in 2008. Lamborn won for a third time tonight, also with 53 percent against 47 percent.
Colorado also delivered another big win for the GOP establishment, in the four-way primary for governor. Former congressman and 2006 nominee Bob Beauprez won with 30 percent — narrowly defeating former Rep. Tom Tancredo, famous for his strong opposition to even legal immigration, who came in at 27 percent.