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May 14, 2014 9:47 AM Another Shaky Election Day for the Republican Establishment

By Ed Kilgore

Once again, if this is The Year of the Republican Establishment, voters and candidates alike don’t seem to have all gotten their scripts.

In West Virginia’s one competitive federal or statewide race yesterday, a candidate who had just moved across the border from Maryland (he said, in a pitch-perfect Tea Party justification, that he fled that sinful Blue State to seek “freedom”) romped past a crowded field for the GOP nomination to succeed Senate candidate Shelley Moore Capito in the House—because he was endorsed by every Tea and wingnut group in sight (including the Senate Conservatives Fund, which is engaging in House races this year).

In Nebraska, as noted here yesterday, Establishment apologists were heading for the hills well before votes were counted, since Mitch McConnell’s boy Shane Osborn did not seem to be doing well against long-time Tea champion Ben Sasse. In the end, Sasse took 49% of the vote to 22% for late-surging self-funder Sid Dinsdale and 21% for Osborn. In the other statewide primary, for Governor, long-time Establishment figure and Attorney General Jon Bruning narrowly lost for the second cycle in a row, to AmeriTrade executive Pete Ricketts, who was endorsed by a host of right-wing luminaries with designs on his father’s End Spending Super-PAC. Bruning is becoming a sort of Establishment Martyr; he lost a widely expected Senate nomination in 2012 to Tea Party favorite Deb Fischer mainly thanks to her lavish backing by Joe Ricketts.

For dessert, self-styled “constitutional conservative” Dan Frei threw a scare into Rep. Lee Terry.

I wrote all this up at TPMCafe if anyone is interested. There’s a nice accompanying photo of Mitch McConnell looking all defensive. But speaking of Mitch, he will have an opportunity next week to put (at least temporarily) the Year of the Republican Establishment narrative back on track, since it’s expected he will crush right-wing challenger Matt Bevin. Til then, it’s likely many spinmeister’s will just choose to talk about something else.

Ed Kilgore is a contributing writer to the Washington Monthly. He is managing editor for The Democratic Strategist and a senior fellow at the Progressive Policy Institute. Find him on Twitter: @ed_kilgore.

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