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The Tea Party loses three Senate primaries

Mitch McConnell
Mitch McConnell
Andrew Burton/Getty Images News

In three Republican Senate primaries Tuesday, establishment-supported candidates squared off against more conservative challengers — and, as expected, in all three the establishment won. Here are the key results:

Georgia: Perdue and Kingston advance to a runoff

Some Republicans once feared that Georgia's five candidates would split the vote so much that a far-right candidate could advance to a runoff election and win it — which would put this GOP-held open seat at great risk in the fall. But that didn't pan out. Two candidates widely viewed as electable — businessman David Perdue and Rep. Jack Kingston — were the top two vote-getters, with about 30 percent and 26 percent of the vote, respectively. Rep. Paul Broun, who's said that evolution and the Big Bang Theory are "lies straight from the pit of hell," and Rep. Phil Gingrey, who defended Todd Akin's comments about "legitimate rape," finished in fourth and fifth, with only about 10 percent of the vote each. The runoff between Perdue and Kingston will take place on July 22, and the winner will go on to face Democratic candidate Michelle Nunn.

Oregon: Monica Wehby wins the nomination

A month ago, Republican insiders would have been thrilled that pediatric neurosurgeon Monica Wehby defeated a conservative rival. The GOP hoped to put the seat of Sen. Jeff Merkley (D) in play, and originally thought Wehby could best do that. Yet some recent revelations have cast doubt on Wehby's electability — the Oregonian reported that both her ex-husband and an ex-boyfriend accused her of stalking and harassment in recent years. However, these reports probably came too late to sway the election — since Oregon votes entirely by mail, 50 percent of the votes were likely already in when that news was reported, according to Harry Enten of FiveThirtyEight. New polling of this race will help clarify whether it's still a potential Republican pickup despite these recent developments.

Kentucky: Mitch McConnell easily wins his primary

The Senate's minority leader beat back a Tea Party primary challenge, winning about 60 percent of the vote. Though McConnell is a Washington insider and had angered conservatives by arranging certain deals with the White House, businessman Matt Bevin's campaign failed to ever gain real traction. Now, McConnell advances to the general election, where a strong Democratic challenger — Kentucky Secretary of State Alison Lundergan Grimes — is waiting for him.

The takeaway

In 2010 and 2012, little-known far-right candidates managed to win several GOP Senate nominations in crucial races, against establishment-anointed choices. That's happening much less often this year. In all three of Tuesday's elections, the GOP establishment got what it wanted.