Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell looks poised to comfortably win renomination next month, despite a serious challenge from tea party opponent Matt Bevin. But what’s equally important for McConnell is that he’s outlined a strategy to neutralize the tea party grassroots — and he’s winning.
— Back in March, McConnell told the NYT he planned to “crush” conservative outside groups, even airing an ad attacking the Bevin-backing Senate Conservatives Fund in his own race. Since then, outside establishment groups like the Chamber of Commerce and Crossroads have been unusually active in GOP primaries, working to nominate more-electable candidates. It’s looking like the establishment has the momentum in every consequential race — even in races where the battle lines are less defined.
— The tactics are multifaceted: In races featuring vulnerable incumbents, establishment groups have hit the challengers hard, both on TV and with embarrassing opposition research. To help Sen. Thad Cochran (R-MS), the NRSC circulated clips of old radio talk shows where state Sen. Chris McDaniel (R) made racially-insensitive and sexist comments. To help Sen. Pat Roberts (R-KS), the committee hit radiologist Milton Wolf (R) for posting comments about corpses on Facebook. Even the Chamber of Commerce, which rarely goes on the attack, has aired ads portraying GOP challengers in Mississippi and Idaho as “trial lawyers.” A newly-created super PAC with ties to GOP donors Sheldon Adelson and Paul Singer attacked Rep. Phil Gingrey, viewed as the weaker candidate in the Georgia Senate race.
— Establishment groups have also been willing to use lower-profile measures to help favored candidates. In North Carolina, American Crossroads is pouring in over $1 million in positive biographical spots to help state House Speaker Thom Tillis avoid a runoff. In Idaho, the Chamber cut an ad featuring Mitt Romney‘s endorsement of Rep. Mike Simpson (R-ID), who is facing Club for Growth-backed opponent Bryan Smith. In Georgia, the Chamber endorsed Rep. Jack Kingston (R) in a crowded Senate primary.
If the GOP wins back the Senate majority, the next two months of primaries will be seen as a crucial period, where outside establishment groups effectively organized to back more-electable candidates, outmaneuvering the grassroots. Or as anti-establishment RedState.com editor Erick Erickson put it: “The establishment intends to cling to their precious.”
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Trump, in a statement: “Based on the fact that the Democratic nominating process is totally rigged and Crooked Hillary Clinton and Deborah Wasserman Schultz will not allow Bernie Sanders to win, and now that I am the presumptive Republican nominee, it seems inappropriate that I would debate the second place finisher. ... I will wait to debate the first place finisher in the Democratic Party, probably Crooked Hillary Clinton, or whoever it may be.”
"It's about time for unity," said UAW President Dennis Williams. "We're endorsing Hillary Clinton. She's gotten 3 million more votes than Bernie, a million more votes than Donald Trump. She's our nominee." He called Sanders "a great friend of the UAW" while saying Trump "does not support the economic security of UAW families." Some 28 percent of UAW members indicated their support for Trump in an internal survey.
"Donald Trump on Thursday reached the number of delegates needed to clinch the Republican nomination for president, completing an unlikely rise that has upended the political landscape and sets the stage for a bitter fall campaign. Trump was put over the top in the Associated Press delegate count by a small number of the party's unbound delegates who told the AP they would support him at the convention."
"Clinton and Bernie Sanders "are now devoting additional money to television advertising. A day after Sanders announced a new ad buy of less than $2 million in the state, Clinton announced her own television campaign. Ads featuring actor Morgan Freeman as well as labor leader and civil rights activist Dolores Huerta will air beginning on Fridayin Fresno, Sacramento, and Los Angeles media markets. Some ads will also target Latino voters and Asian American voters. The total value of the buy is about six figures according to the Clinton campaign." Meanwhile, a new poll shows Sanders within the margin of error, trailing Clinton 44%-46%.