Republican Sen. Pat Roberts of Kansas beat tea party-backed challenger Milton Wolf in Tuesday’s marquee primary battle.
With 82% of precincts reporting, the Associated Press called the race for Roberts, who is seeking a fourth Senate term. He garnered 48.2% of the vote compared to Wolf who earned 40.7%.
The win for the 78-year-old incumbent is being seen as another big victory for the Republican establishment. In this year’s slew of Senate Republican primaries, the tea party has repeatedly tried — and failed — to oust incumbent mainstream conservatives, including Mitch McConnell in Kentucky, Lindsey Graham in South Carolina, Thad Cochran in Mississippi, and John Cornyn in Texas.
Roberts, first elected to the House in 1980, will now face independent Greg Orman, Libertarian candidate Randall Baston and the Democrat’s likely nominee, Shawnee County District Attorney Chad Taylor in November’s general election. The Sunflower State has not elected a Democrat to the Senate since 1932.
Both candidates had rocky moments on the campaign trail. Roberts’ residency came under scrutiny following a New York Times report about how he owns a home in Virginia but not in Kansas. Meanwhile, Wolf, a radiologist and President Barack Obama’s cousin once removed, was heavily criticized after it was revealed he went on Facebook to post and make fun of a patient's X-rays showing gruesome fatal injuries.
Other notable victories on Tuesday night included Rep. Mike Pompeo beating former Rep. Todd Tiahrt in the Republican primary race in the 4th Congressional district in Kansas. In 2010, Tiahrt gave up the seat (which he held for 16 years) to make an unsuccessful bid for the Senate.
With 83.4% of precincts reporting, the Associated Press called the race for Pompeo, who accrued 63.1% of the vote compared to just 36.9% for Tiahrt.
Meanwhile, in the 11th Congressional District primary race in Michigan, businessman David Trott was projected by the Associated Press to easily defeat Republican Congressman incumbent Kerry Bentivolio. With 100% of precincts reporting, Trott received 66% of the vote compared to Bentivolio’s 34%.
Bentivolio – in one of the strangest House races of 2012 – had won his seat after former Rep. Thaddeus McCotter failed to qualify for the GOP primary after it was revealed he had forged signatures on his ballot petition. McCotter’s subsequent resignation left Bentivolio as the only Republican on the ballot. This year, Trott poured nearly $2.5 million of his own money into the race and was backed by the U.S. Chamber of Commerce and failed presidential candidate Mitt Romney.
Also in Michigan, Republican Rep. Justin Amash — elected in the tea party wave of 2010 — proved he has staying power, beating investment adviser Brian Ellis, who is backed by the business wing of the Republican Party. Ellis had tried to argue on the campaign trail that Amash has alienated too many Republicans and hasn’t voted in line with the residents he represents on issues including abortion and National Security Agency surveillance.
With 92.9% of precincts reporting, Amash received 57.1%% of the vote compared to 42.9% for Ellis, according to the Associated Press.
The 3rd Congressional District, which Amash represents, typically votes Republican, so he is expected to win the general election in November.