Graham, Cantor face Tea Party challenges in Republican primaries

WASHINGTON Tue Jun 10, 2014 1:02am EDT

U.S. Senator Lindsey Graham (R-SC) talks to a reporter after the weekly Republican caucus luncheon at the U.S. Capitol in Washington May 6, 2014. REUTERS/Jonathan Ernst

U.S. Senator Lindsey Graham (R-SC) talks to a reporter after the weekly Republican caucus luncheon at the U.S. Capitol in Washington May 6, 2014.

Credit: Reuters/Jonathan Ernst

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WASHINGTON (Reuters) - U.S. Senator Lindsey Graham of South Carolina and House Majority Leader Eric Cantor of Virginia are favored to fend off Tea Party challengers in Republican primaries on Tuesday, when voters in five states pick candidates for the Nov. 4 midterm elections.

The Graham and Cantor showdowns are the latest in a series of primary clashes between the conservative Tea Party movement and the Republican establishment this year. The Tea Party is seeking its first high-profile win after a string of losses.

It came close last week in Mississippi, when Tea Party favorite Chris McDaniel fell just short of the majority needed for an outright win but forced six-term U.S. Senator Thad Cochran into a June 24 run-off.

Graham, a prominent foreign policy hawk who has angered some conservatives for his willingness to work with Democrats, hopes to avoid a run-off with the second-place finisher by capturing 50 percent of the vote in his crowded South Carolina primary.

He has moved aggressively to beat back a challenge from the right, touting his conservative credentials and spending more than $8.5 million since January 2013 in preparation for a primary race, according to fundraising figures compiled by the Center for Responsive Politics.

A Clemson University poll last week showed Graham within reach of victory with about 49 percent of the likely primary vote and one-third of voters still undecided. That puts him well ahead of any of his six Tea Party challengers, who say Graham is not conservative enough, though they all languish in single digits.

The South Carolina field of challengers to Graham, a two-term U.S. senator, includes a minister, two lawyers and a state senator who gave away a handgun at a campaign event.

Cantor, the No. 2 Republican in the U.S. House of Representatives, also has been accused of not being conservative enough by his Tea Party challenger, David Brat, an economics professor at Randolph-Macon College.

Like Graham, Cantor has responded aggressively and recently sent voters in his central Virginia district a mailer boasting of his efforts to kill House immigration legislation that would have offered what he called amnesty to undocumented workers.

Cantor spent $5 million during this election cycle, according to the Center for Responsive Politics. Brat spent about $122,000 during the same period.

The Graham and Cantor races highlight Tuesday's primary voting. Virginia will also host another crowded primary battle in the heavily Democratic suburbs of Washington D.C., where seven candidates are seeking to replace retiring Democratic U.S. Representative Jim Moran.

Primaries are also scheduled on Tuesday in Maine, Nevada and North Dakota.

(Reporting by John Whitesides; Editing by Dan Grebler)

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Comments (5)
gilliardc wrote:
They’re both lying idiots.

Jun 10, 2014 9:54am EDT  --  Report as abuse
astroz wrote:
The fact that Bratt can be competative with Cantor while only spending a paultry $122,000 vs Cantor’s massive $5 million speaks volumes about the outrage of Cantor’s support for mass amnesty to please his Chamber of Commerce puppet masters. Cantor WILL PASS MASS AMNESTY IF REELECTED, make no mistake about it. This guy needs to go! Get into the fight America… is giving us a voice again on immigration issues. If you’re not in the fight, then get into it Now. NumbersUSA is our champion….use it.

Jun 10, 2014 10:02am EDT  --  Report as abuse
BeRealistic wrote:
Sadly, I thing the moajority of Americans are too shallow and too ignorant to understand the issues facing our nation today. Too many are voting based on aspects as ridiculous as a candidates gender, race, or appearance. Many want to vote just to give themselves a warm fuzzy feeling to assuage their misplaced guilt for the woes of society. Most are truly unconcerned with the actual behavior or action of those elected, they have little more attention span than the tv commercial they “put up” with while watching mind rotting garbage like Bachelor/Big Brother/Survivor/Idol/etc. America has reaped what it has sown and most want to continue down the same path of destruction and blame whoever they see as the enemy instead of putting forth any effort to understand the real problems and the root of the problems facing our nation and our culture.

Jun 10, 2014 10:46am EDT  --  Report as abuse
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