Speed Reads

2014 Watch

Thom Tillis beats Tea Party for GOP Senate nod in North Carolina, Rep. Walter Jones beats establishment

The North Carolina Republican primary results are in, with a big victory for the U.S. Senate candidate backed by the party's national establishment — and also for an incumbent House member whom many others in the party were trying to take down.

With 82 percent of precincts reporting statewide, according to the The Associated Press, State House Speaker Thom Tillis has won the Senate primary with 46 percent of the vote — well above the 40 percent threshold he needed to avoid a runoff election against one of his insurgent challengers. Tillis is himself quite strongly conservative, and will face a competitive race against the incumbent Democrat, Sen. Kay Hagan. Indeed, ads run by Hagan and other Democrats against Tillis during the primary gave quite a strong impression that they had rather wanted to face one of those Tea Party opponents instead.

Meanwhile, in the state's 3rd Congressional District, Rep. Walter Jones turned back a challenge from Taylor Griffin, a former Treasury Department official under President George W. Bush, in a race that was very much a reversal of the usual Establishment vs. Tea Party narrative. With 87 percent of precincts reporting, the 20-year incumbent Jones has 51 percent to Griffin's 45 percent. Jones has become something of a populist renegade ever since the mid-2000s, when he turned against the Bush administration on the Iraq War, and in this election he was opposed by groups ranging from banking interests to former Republican Vice Presidential nominee Sarah Palin.