Speed Reads

Weak Tea

Tuesday night's primary scorecard: GOP establishment 4, Tea Party 0

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Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell's (R-Ky.) easy win over Tea Party–backed challenger Matt Bevin is only the most prominent of Tuesday night's victories of the Republican establishment over less-mainstream candidates.

In Oregon, pediatric neurosurgeon Monica Wehby defeated more conservative state Sen. Jason Conger for the right to face Sen. Jeff Merkley (D). In Georgia's GOP primary for an open U.S. Senate seat, the two establishment-backed candidates — Rep. Jack Kingston and former Dollar General CEO David Perdue — advanced to a runoff election, eliminating a slate of hardline conservative candidates. And in Idaho, Rep. Mike Simpson (R) soundly fended off a challenge from Tea Party-financed trial lawyer Bryan Smith.

There are lots of ways to look at these results: It was a good night for incumbents and well-financed candidates (isn't it always?), and probably a bad night for Democrats' hopes to pick off a Republican-held Senate seat. But if you score Tuesday night as a fight between the GOP establishment versus the Tea Party, the final tally is 4 to 0.

"Republican primary voters are speaking out and making clear that they don't want professional Tea Party groups hijacking primaries and picking their candidates," GOP operative Brian Walsh tells The Wall Street Journal. "Those days are over." That seems to have been the case on Tuesday, at least.