After Liz Cheney’s Departure, Here Are Three GOP Senate Primaries That Matter

Wyoming Senate candidate Liz Cheney holds a news conference at the Little America Hotel and Resort in Cheyenne, Wyoming on July 17, 2013. Cheney, the daughter of former Vice President Dick Cheney, will run against longtime incumbent Sen. Mike Enzi (R-WY). Cheney launched her campaign yesterday following Enzi's announcement that he will run for a fourth term. 
Getty Images
Add to Briefcase
See more stories about...
Jan. 6, 2014, 2:28 a.m.

As Liz Cheney ap­par­ently real­ized, de­feat­ing a well-liked and deeply con­ser­vat­ive sen­at­or in a Re­pub­lic­an primary is tough. At least when your own can­did­acy is rooted out-of-state and is best-known for spark­ing an ugly in­tra-fam­ily feud.

Cheney’s de­cision to quit her six-month-old cam­paign against Sen. Mi­chael En­zi in Wyom­ing, first re­por­ted by CNN late Sunday night, would ap­pear to rob the 2014 midterm of one of its show-horse races. But, in truth, des­pite the glitz of Dick Cheney’s daugh­ter run­ning for Sen­ate, her drop-out changes little. Typ­ic­ally, sen­at­ors must beat back ac­cus­a­tions of be­ing too cozy with the es­tab­lish­ment; in this case, Cheney’s lin­eage en­sured she’d be the one de­fend­ing her tea-party cred. She struggled to of­fer a ra­tionale for her cam­paign, and by most ac­counts, was poised to lose badly.

However, Cheney’s ab­sence hardly means that Re­pub­lic­ans don’t of­fer a mul­ti­tude of im­port­ant primar­ies. Here are three that will have par­tic­u­lar im­port­ance for the party as it battles for the Sen­ate ma­jor­ity.

North Car­o­lina

When: May 6

Ma­jor Can­did­ates: State House Ma­jor­ity Lead­er Thom Tillis, phys­i­cian Greg Bran­non, pas­tor Mark Har­ris

Why it mat­ters: Per­haps no primary has been as act­ive as early as the Tar Heel State’s GOP con­test. Already Bran­non, backed by Sen. Rand Paul of Ken­tucky, and Har­ris are ac­cus­ing the es­tab­lish­ment-backed Tillis of be­ing a squishy mod­er­ate. Tillis’s fun­drais­ing with Karl Rove sug­gest he isn’t hid­ing the fact he’s the Re­pub­lic­an Party’s can­did­ate-of-choice, either. The in­cum­bent Demo­crat, Sen. Kay Hagan, is vul­ner­able, but North Car­o­lina’s purple tint means Re­pub­lic­ans don’t have a free pass for her seat. Even if Tillis wins, he risks stretch­ing him­self too far to the right to win the primary.

Geor­gia

When: May 20

Ma­jor can­did­ates: Reps. Jack King­ston, Phil Gin­grey, Paul Broun, former state Sec­ret­ary of State Kar­en Han­del, busi­ness­man Dav­id Per­due

Why it mat­ters: It’s the Demo­crats’ fa­vor­ite primary. The free-for-all field is seen as near-cer­tain to move to a sum­mer­time run­off between the top two fin­ish­ers. And if Broun or Gin­grey fill either spot, the GOP is in trouble. Both, but es­pe­cially Broun, have a his­tory of in­cen­di­ary rhet­or­ic that would give Demo­crats a chance to win this New South red state. Their pre­sumptive nom­in­ee, Michelle Nunn, has the fam­ous fath­er and fun­drais­ing chops to be an ideal stand­ard-bear­er, even if she is new to polit­ics.

A com­pet­it­ive Peach State race in the fall would be a ma­jor blow to the GOP’s hopes of re­tak­ing the Sen­ate. Watch to see if Re­pub­lic­an power brokers can dis­creetly knock Broun and Gin­grey out of the way.

Iowa

When: June 3

Ma­jor can­did­ates: State Sen. Joni Ernst, talk-ra­dio host Sam Clo­vis, busi­ness­man Mark Jac­obs, former U.S. At­tor­ney Matt Whi­taker

Why it mat­ters: With no clear front-run­ner, it’s pos­sible no can­did­ate will cross the 35 per­cent threshold ne­ces­sary to avoid a con­ven­tion. If so, a pro­cess usu­ally con­trolled by con­ser­vat­ive act­iv­ists will se­lect the party’s nom­in­ee, and that hasn’t worked well for the GOP re­cently. Demo­crats have already ral­lied around Rep. Bruce Bra­ley as their nom­in­ee. Iowa GOP lead­ers are vow­ing to take back the con­ven­tion with main­stream Re­pub­lic­an del­eg­ates, a massive grass­roots un­der­tak­ing that will test wheth­er the es­tab­lish­ment can match the en­ergy of act­iv­ists. Tra­di­tion­ally, they have been un­able to do so.

What We're Following See More »
WITH LIVE BLOGGING
Trump Deposition Video Is Online
6 hours ago
STAFF PICKS

The video of Donald Trump's deposition in his case against restaurateur Jeffrey Zakarian is now live. Slate's Jim Newell and Josh Voorhees are live-blogging it while they watch.

Source:
SOUND LEVEL AFFECTED
Debate Commission Admits Issues with Trump’s Mic
7 hours ago
THE LATEST

The Commission on Presidential Debates put out a statement today that gives credence to Donald Trump's claims that he had a bad microphone on Monday night. "Regarding the first debate, there were issues regarding Donald Trump's audio that affected the sound level in the debate hall," read the statement in its entirety.

Source:
TRUMP VS. CHEFS
Trump Deposition Video to Be Released
7 hours ago
THE LATEST

"A video of Donald Trump testifying under oath about his provocative rhetoric about Mexicans and other Latinos is set to go public" as soon as today. "Trump gave the testimony in June at a law office in Washington in connection with one of two lawsuits he filed last year after prominent chefs reacted to the controversy over his remarks by pulling out of plans to open restaurants at his new D.C. hotel. D.C. Superior Court Judge Brian Holeman said in an order issued Thursday evening that fears the testimony might show up in campaign commercials were no basis to keep the public from seeing the video."

Source:
A CANDIDATE TO BE ‘PROUD’ OF
Chicago Tribune Endorses Gary Johnson
10 hours ago
THE LATEST

No matter that his recall of foreign leaders leaves something to be desired, Gary Johnson is the choice of the Chicago Tribune's editorial board. The editors argue that Donald Trump couldn't do the job of president, while hitting Hillary Clinton for "her intent to greatly increase federal spending and taxation, and serious questions about honesty and trust." Which leaves them with Johnson. "Every American who casts a vote for him is standing for principles," they write, "and can be proud of that vote. Yes, proud of a candidate in 2016."

FUNERAL FOR ISRAELI LEADER
Obama Compares Peres to ‘Giants of the 20th Century’
11 hours ago
THE DETAILS

Speaking at the funeral of former Israeli Prime Minister Shimon Peres, President Obama "compared Peres to 'other giants of the 20th century' such as Nelson Mandela and Queen Elizabeth who 'find no need to posture or traffic in what's popular in the moment.'" Among the 6,000 mourners at the service was Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas. Obama called Abbas's presence a sign of the "unfinished business of peace" in the region.

Source:
×