Let’s, for a moment, look past tonight’s Nebraska Senate primary. Regardless of whether anti-establishment favorite Ben Sasse (R) wins or loses, the conservative groups at his side (Senate Conservatives Fund and Club for Growth, among others) have an important month ahead of them. And by the looks of things, things aren’t poised to break in their favor.
— The Wall Street Journal reported Monday that the Club had pulled out of its fight against Rep. Mike Simpson (R-ID 02), whose primary against attorney Bryan Smith (R) occurs next week. The Idaho race was arguably the main House showdown within the Republican Party this year, and the incumbent looks poised to win a T.K.O. before anyone starts counting ballots.
— Things look worse for conservative challengers in Kentucky, where a Matt Bevin (R) victory over Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R) would, at this point, register as one of the biggest political shockers in years. Remember when Bevin was the raison d’etre of some conservative activists and the Senate Conservatives Fund? (Notably, the Club never endorsed him.)
— That leaves conservatives rallying around state Senator Chris McDaniel (R) in Mississippi, in his matchup against Sen. Thad Cochran (R). Expect an almost fervent amount of attention on that race between now and the June 3 primary — the operatives plotting against the incumbent know he might be the only chance they have left to knock off a current officeholder. Cochran is still viewed as the favorite and is up in the polls, but conservatives consider it still very winnable.
Regardless of tonight’s results or the outcome of the Mississippi contest, expect some soul-searching among the leaders of the “conservative establishment” after this month’s slate of races. There’s a growing recognition that 2014 is going to be a lot different than the tea party-infused years of 2010 and 2012.
— Alex Roarty
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