ATLANTA—All across America, Republican incumbents and establishmentarians crushed their right-wing challengers on Tuesday. Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell trounced Tea Party-backed businessman Matt Bevin, taking 60 percent of the vote to Bevin's 35 percent. A congressman in Idaho, Mike Simpson, who'd been singled out by the Club for Growth for symbolic punishment, also easily defeated his challenger. In Pennsylvania, Georgia, and Oregon, attempted right-wing challenges fell short.
It was a brutal night for the conservative movement, and a departure from previous years when the Tea Party made its mark by toppling longtime incumbents and winning primaries over anointed insiders. But make no mistake, the right is still drawing blood. The fight between the mainstream and the right wing remains a bloody and draining battle for the GOP, one that saps party resources at a potential cost to the party's chances in November.
In Georgia, for example, a slick CEO with a famous political name, David Perdue, came in first in Georgia's Republican primary. But he can't claim the nomination unless he wins a runoff nine weeks from now against Representative Jack Kingston, the Chamber of Commerce-backed candidate. Kingston is already bashing Perdue's business record, while Perdue accuses Kingston of being part of the problem in Washington. Erick Erickson, the RedState.com editor and a prominent Georgia talk-radio host, supports Kingston and will likely spend the next two months criticizing Perdue. The two candidates have already spent more than $5 million on television ads. Meanwhile, Democratic nominee Michelle Nunn skates by unopposed.