- - Sunday, August 3, 2014

This week is the last week of the tea party insurrection in the Republican Party.

There are two major primaries with two very different candidates challenging incumbents. And there will probably be two different results.

In Kansas, Milton Wolf is challenging longtime Sen. Pat Roberts. Mr. Wolf’s primary claims to fame are that he is a doctor and that he is Barack Obama’s second cousin. As a doctor, Mr. Wolf has done a lot of good. As President Obama’s second cousin, most folks would agree his parents did a better job of raising him than Mr. Obama’s did.

A number of the Washington insider groups that claim they are tea party groups that have thrown a lot of money into the Kansas race in support of Mr. Wolf.

Mr. Wolf’s campaign has never really gained a lot of traction. His biggest complaint against Mr. Roberts is that Mr. Roberts doesn’t have a home in Kansas and rarely visits. While that is a legitimate complaint, it doesn’t seem to have resonated with Kansas voters.

Tea party-candidate Joe Carr, Tennessee Republican, is running against Sen. Lamar Alexander. (Photo: Joe Carr campaign for Senate)
Tea party-candidate Joe Carr, Tennessee Republican, is running against Sen. Lamar Alexander. ... more >

In Tennessee, tea party candidate Joe Carr is taking on liberal Republican Lamar Alexander. Earlier this year, this race was all but ignored by most of the national tea party groups.

The common wisdom was that Mr. Carr had no chance against Mr. Alexander. Many in Tennessee were perplexed that most of the national groups ignored the Tennessee race.

Mr. Alexander is the most liberal Republican senator who has a serious primary challenger. And that may be the difference between Kansas and Tennessee.

Despite being as some critics have called Mr. Roberts, the “third senator” from Virginia, Mr. Roberts has a fairly conservative voting record. Heritage Action gives him the same rating they give Ted Cruz!

Mr. Alexander’s ratings put him as one of the most liberal Republican senators.

Mr. Wolf has a couple of problems. First, this is his first run for public office. He has done surprisingly well for a rookie, but he has made some mistakes. But because this is his first attempt at public office, he has no record to run on.

Mr. Carr does have a conservative record as a state legislator in Tennessee and that has helped create enthusiasm for his run.

For Mr. Alexander, the campaign has turned into one long nightmare. Mr. Alexander has refused to debate Mr. Carr, claiming he needed to be in Washington. But last week, when a crucial vote led by Mr. Cruz to block Mr. Obama’s executive amnesty plan came up, Mr. Alexander was no where to be found.

Mr. Alexander tried to do a statewide bus tour, but he abandoned it after more supporters of Mr. Carr were showing up at his rallies than Alexander supporters. In a particularly humiliating moment, Mr. Alexander snuck out the back door of an event in Elizabethtown, Tenn., to avoid questions.

Kansas will hold its primary on Tuesday, and despite the polls tightening, Mr.  Roberts should easily secure re-election. Mr. Wolf is a charismatic man and a good candidate with a future in front of him. He just won’t be going to the Senate this year.

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