Mitch’s Loyal Establishment Troops

Tomorrow is likely to be a good day for Mitch McConnell. He will almost certainly crush challenger Matt Bevin in his own Kentucky primary, and will then likely get some sort of general-election poll bump against Democrat Alison Lundergan Grimes, who’s been running even with him up until now.

Beyond that, to the extent the Year of the Republican Establishment narrative for 2014 gets back on track after a tough Tuesday last week in Nebraska and West Virginia, that will burnish McConnell’s reputation as the biggest of big dogs in the GOP kennel. With Mike Simpson likely to beat back a Tea Party challenge in Idaho and Paul Broun and Phil Gingrey almost certain to lose in the GA Senate primary, the YORE meme is lookin’ pretty good–as long as you don’t look too closely.

If you do look a little more closely, you find Republican Establishment front-runner in the GA race, David Perdue, stating unequivocally in a candidate debate over the weekend that he would not vote for another term for McConnell as Senate GOP leader. The same answer was provided by Karen Handel, who is fighting for a runoff spot, likely facing Perdue. The third candidate thought to be in the thick of things, Jack Kingston, waffled. Nobody was inclined to thump the tubs for ol’ Mitch.

This reinforces what ought to be the real Narrative of the GOP primary season so far: regardless of alleged “factions,” candidates are occupying “constitutional conservative” territory as fast as they can pitch their tents. “Establishment” victories, where they occur, are not, so far, in any visible way representing any positive referendum for “moderation” or even “pragmatism,” other than the pragmatism of heavy campaign spending. Let’s remember that when McConnell is featured as the triumphant vanquisher of extremism in many accounts tomorrow night.

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Ed Kilgore

Ed Kilgore, a Monthly contributing editor, is a columnist for the Daily Intelligencer, New York magazine’s politics blog, and the managing editor for the Democratic Strategist.