US state primaries: The Tea Party’s over as Georgia Republicans turn moderate

The GOP needs just six more seats to take control of the Senate

If Georgia in the Deep South was vibrating with Tea Party fever this time four years ago, that is hardly the case now, with the two candidates most identified with the movement set to be shut out in a crowded primary election for a seat in the United States Senate.

One of six states with primaries on Tuesday, Georgia seems set to confirm what may be a defining trend of this year’s mid-term elections: a resurgence of candidates backed by the Republican establishment at the expense of Tea Party extremists.

Polling in Georgia shows Paul Broun and Phil Gingrey, Tea Party-backed members of Congress, trailing badly before today’s vote. Mr Broun said during his campaign that evolution and the Big Bang theory are merely “lies straight from the pit of hell”.

Far better positioned are Jack Kingston, a congressman from Savannah who has the backing of the Chamber of Commerce; David Purdue, a businessman and former top executive at Reebok; and Karen Handel, a former senior state official. Only Ms Handel has received any overt backing from the Tea Party, including from Sarah Palin. The two leading candidates will compete in a run-off contest in July.

“Georgia’s fire-breathing, flag-waving, tea-party-enamoured Republican electorate of 2010 has all but disappeared,” Matt Towery, head of Insider Advantage, an Atlanta polling company, noted last week, adding that the shift could end up helping the Democrats if it leads to lower turnout among the Tea Party faithful. Tea Party-endorsed candidates are also expected to fare badly today in voting in Idaho and Kentucky.

Heading into a Texas Roadhouse restaurant in the Savannah Mall, Roy and Paula Bethel say they intend to vote in this primary but confirm also that their old enthusiasm for the Tea Party has waned. “I think they were right on the money on a lot of stuff, but they didn’t have the political power to pull it off,” says Mr Bethel, 65, a project manager for the army. He said he’ll vote for Jack Kingston.

Georgia Republican Senate candidate Paul Broun (AP) Georgia Republican Senate candidate Paul Broun (AP)

Mrs Bethel, 62, is more direct. “I think they were just a little too far out there,” she said. “I think the party was really getting split and I don’t think you can get anything done if the party is broken in half. It’s time we get back together and get back on track.”

The Democrat candidate is Michelle Nunn, a prominent Georgia civil rights leader and daughter of the former Democratic Senator Sam Nunn.

Most polling experts give the Republicans a more than even chance of taking control of the US Senate in November, an event that would all but straightjacket Barack Obama for the rest of his second term. To achieve that, they need to gain six seats. But they could be blocked if the Democrats in turn can steal at least one Senate seat from the Republicans – and the only place that seems feasible is here in Georgia, with Ms Nunn on the  ticket.

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
News
A poster by Durham Constabulary
news
Arts and Entertainment
books New York Times slammed over summer reading list
Sport
Cameron Jerome
footballCanaries beat Boro to gain promotion to the Premier League
Arts and Entertainment
Performers drink tea at the Glastonbury festival in 2010
music
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
News
ebookA unique anthology of reporting and analysis of a crucial period of history
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Guru Careers: Software Developer / C# Developer

£40-50K: Guru Careers: We are seeking an experienced Software / C# Developer w...

Guru Careers: Software Developer

£35 - 40k + Benefits: Guru Careers: We are seeking a Software Developer (JavaS...

SThree: Trainee Recruitment Consultant / Resourcer

£18000 - £23000 per annum + Commission: SThree: As a Trainee Recruitment Consu...

Ashdown Group: UI Developer - (UI, HTML, CSS, JavaScript, AngularJS)

£25000 - £40000 per annum: Ashdown Group: UI Developer - (UI, JavaScript, HTML...

Day In a Page

Abuse - and the hell that came afterwards

Abuse - and the hell that follows

James Rhodes on the extraordinary legal battle to publish his memoir
Why we need a 'tranquility map' of England, according to campaigners

It's oh so quiet!

The case for a 'tranquility map' of England
'Timeless fashion': It may be a paradox, but the industry loves it

'Timeless fashion'

It may be a paradox, but the industry loves it
If the West needs a bridge to the 'moderates' inside Isis, maybe we could have done with Osama bin Laden staying alive after all

Could have done with Osama bin Laden staying alive?

Robert Fisk on the Fountainheads of World Evil in 2011 - and 2015
New exhibition celebrates the evolution of swimwear

Evolution of swimwear

From bathing dresses in the twenties to modern bikinis
Sun, sex and an anthropological study: One British academic's summer of hell in Magaluf

Sun, sex and an anthropological study

One academic’s summer of hell in Magaluf
From Shakespeare to Rising Damp... to Vicious

Frances de la Tour's 50-year triumph

'Rising Damp' brought De la Tour such recognition that she could be forgiven if she'd never been able to move on. But at 70, she continues to flourish - and to beguile
'That Whitsun, I was late getting away...'

Ian McMillan on the Whitsun Weddings

This weekend is Whitsun, and while the festival may no longer resonate, Larkin's best-loved poem, lives on - along with the train journey at the heart of it
Kathryn Williams explores the works and influences of Sylvia Plath in a new light

Songs from the bell jar

Kathryn Williams explores the works and influences of Sylvia Plath
How one man's day in high heels showed him that Cannes must change its 'no flats' policy

One man's day in high heels

...showed him that Cannes must change its 'flats' policy
Is a quiet crusade to reform executive pay bearing fruit?

Is a quiet crusade to reform executive pay bearing fruit?

Dominic Rossi of Fidelity says his pressure on business to control rewards is working. But why aren’t other fund managers helping?
The King David Hotel gives precious work to Palestinians - unless peace talks are on

King David Hotel: Palestinians not included

The King David is special to Jerusalem. Nick Kochan checked in and discovered it has some special arrangements, too
More people moving from Australia to New Zealand than in the other direction for first time in 24 years

End of the Aussie brain drain

More people moving from Australia to New Zealand than in the other direction for first time in 24 years
Meditation is touted as a cure for mental instability but can it actually be bad for you?

Can meditation be bad for you?

Researching a mass murder, Dr Miguel Farias discovered that, far from bringing inner peace, meditation can leave devotees in pieces
Eurovision 2015: Australians will be cheering on their first-ever entrant this Saturday

Australia's first-ever Eurovision entrant

Australia, a nation of kitsch-worshippers, has always loved the Eurovision Song Contest. Maggie Alderson says it'll fit in fine