Primaries show Tea Party impact on GOP

Interesting analysis of yesterday's primaries by AP, where it is pointed out that even if Mark Bevin and other Tea Party candidates failed to break through, Tea Party challenges have forced establishment candidates to move to the right, adopting many of the positions taken by conservatives.

The differences between tea party and non-tea party Republicans are shrinking. Often it's merely tone and experience that separate them. Tone and experience matter, however, and Tuesday's GOP voters chose the less bombastic and unpredictable conservatives in most cases.

In Kentucky, Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell easily dispatched tea party challenger Matt Bevin. As a 30-year senator and party leader, McConnell is about as establishment as they come. He has predicted that he and other mainstream Republicans will "crush" tea party candidates this year.

Bevin initially excited anti-establishment Republicans. But his campaign eventually collapsed under rookie mistakes and McConnell's overwhelming advantage in money, experience and organization.

Even John Boehner acknowledged the influence of the Tea Party:

"I think the tea party has brought great energy to our political process," the Ohio congressman said when asked about Tuesday's contests.

"You get in these primary elections – they are hard-fought battles and sometimes – listen, there is not that much, not that big a difference between what you call the tea party and your average conservative Republican," he said, pointing to the GOP's near-unanimous opposition to Obamacare, tax increases and an overbearing federal government.

Boehner's assurance comes after the 12-term Republican lawmaker easily defeated two tea party-backed candidates in his Ohio district earlier this month.

The Tea Party can take heart that they may be losing at the ballot box, but they are winning the argument.



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