The Washington PostDemocracy Dies in Darkness

GOP primary voters won’t buy what the far right is peddling

When it rains it pours on the far right. Already in hot water for a civil verdict against him for fraud, Senate candidate Greg Bannon of North Carolina went on a nutty anti-vaccine rant. They “are using that to control you, to control me, to control life.” That’s the fellow who’s been endorsed by a local tea party PAC, Sen. Rand Paul (R-Ky.) and the pro-shutdown RedState. They know how to pick them, huh? (Madison Project chose simply to slam the “establishment” candidate on its Web site.)

Well, they aren’t alone. In Illinois, two congressmen selected by the Club for Growth Action effort to primary mainstream GOP congressmen won without breaking a sweat. Incumbent Rep. Adam Kinzinger (R-Ill.) won with 78 percent of the vote, and Rep. Aaron Schock (R-Ill.) won unopposed.

Meanwhile, in  Georgia, the two mainstream candidates lead in the GOP Senate primary race, with tea party favorites trailing badly. The Hill reports: “Businessman David Perdue (R) and Rep. Jack Kingston (R-Ga.) are starting to build leads in a crowded Georgia Senate primary, according to a new poll. … Perdue has 29 percent support and Kingston has 19 percent support in the automated poll, conducted by SurveyUSA for NBC’s Atlanta affiliate. Rep. Phil Gingrey (R-Ga.) has 12 percent support, Rep. Paul Broun (R-Ga.) is at 11 percent and former Georgia Secretary of State Karen Handel (R) has 10 percent support, according to the survey.” Broun was endorsed by the tea party and the Madison Project. Gingrey, who had a major staff exodus in the fall, tried to defend Todd Akin’s disastrous comments on rape.

All of this comes on the heels of a slam-dunk win by targeted Sen. John Cornyn (R-Tex.) in his state primary and polls showing Milton Wolf and Matt Bevin — backed by the Madison Project, Senate Conservatives Fund and others — losing by mid-double-digits to Sen. Pat Roberts (R-Kan.) and Sen. Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.), respectively.

Why are all these challengers bombing? A better question is, why did the D.C.-based right-wing groups and politicians like Rand Paul think these people were credible candidates? Perhaps it is the self-appointed protectors of conservative orthodoxy who are badly out of touch and entirely incompetent in vetting candidates. The good news for the GOP: Nearly all of these flaky figures will wipe out before the general election. They must do so if the GOP is to hold or grow the House majority and take back the Senate.