STAMFORD, Connecticut, May 21, 2014 — In a key test of the 2014 elections, several states held primaries on Tuesday.
For those who support mainstream Republican candidates, it was a great night. For Democrats hoping the GOP would implode, their prayers went unanswered.
For those who still believe the Clintons have any influence anywhere, the results say otherwise. In state after state, the Republican Party showed that it will not be making the same mistakes that cost it control of the Senate in 2010 and 2012.
Democrats are in deep trouble, and they know it. The only states where Democrats saw a realistic chance of picking up a GOP senate seat were Kentucky and Georgia. Democrats have a realistic shot in Georgia and an outside shot in Kentucky, but neither will be the easy races Democrats hoped for.
Republicans need six seats to take back the senate and remove Harry Reid as Majority Leader. These primaries brought that goal slightly closer.
In Kentucky, Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell easily beat back Tea Party challenger Matt Bevin. The Tea Party movement had a big win recently with Ben Sasse in Nebraska, but that was an open seat. Bevin was going up against the Godfather of Kentucky politics. McConnell had the endorsement of the National Rifle Association and his fellow Kentucky Senator Rand Paul. Bevin was blasted 60-36%.
McConnell now faces off against 35-year old Alison Grimes. Democrats are expected to pour millions into this race, and Grimes has the backing of Bill and Hillary Clinton. Sadly for Grimes, the only people less liked in Kentucky than the Clintons is President Obama. The Clinton name lost big on this night, and there ability to deliver for anybody but each other is even money at best.
Arkansas made Bill Clinton, but it may not save the current Senator Mark Pryor. Pryor is in deep trouble for his vote in favor of Obamacare. His best hope was facing a weak challenger. Instead Republicans loudly rallied around Tom Cotton, as strong a nominee as they get. Cotton faced n primary opposition, and will have plenty of money and national party help to try and topple Pryor.
One race where the Clintons put their prestige on the line was a Democrat primary in Pennsylvania. The candidate is related to the Clintons by marriage, and she lost her job two decades ago because of them.
In 1993, Representative Marjorie Margolies-Mezvinsky was a well-liked moderate Democrat who was finishing her first term in a Republican district. Nicknamed “3M,” she provided the deciding to House vote to pass Bill Clinton’s tax increase after she and he campaigned on middle class tax cuts. She was voted out in the 1994 Gingrich wave election, and her various comebacks since have failed. Her husband went to prison, she dropped the hyphenated name, and gave it another shot as Double-M rather than Triple-M. Her son married the Clintons’ daughter Chelsea, but the Clinton fundraising machine did not stave off her defeat in the 2014 Democratic primary.
Georgia could have been a ray of hope for the Democrats, with Michelle Nunn as their senate nominee. The daughter of widely respected Senator Sam Nunn is the best Democratic recruit, but the Republicans refused to nominate their weakest candidates. Businessman David Purdue and Representative Jack Kingston are both mainstream Republican candidates. Former Secretary of State Karen Handel had the backing of Sarah Palin, but just narrowly missed the runoff by coming in third. Other candidates including one further to the right were trounced. Nunn could still benefit if Purdue and Kingston pummel each other in the runoff, but both men are reasonable general election candidates.
The 2016 senate map favors Democrats because the GOP will have to defend the seats they won in 2010. 2014 has Democrats on defense due to some of their improbable wins in 2008. The last couple of elections the Democrats have held the Senate only because the GOP nominated flawed candidates. Tuesday’s results show the GOP has learned its lesson.
Six months is a lifetime in politics, but at this moment the Democrats are in a heap of trouble thanks to a Republican Party that is not interested in giving victories away anymore.