By MICHAEL FALCONE
5 LESSONS LEARNED FROM TUESDAY’S PRIMARIES: Six states held primaries yesterday — Arkansas, Georgia, Idaho, Kentucky, Oregon, and Pennsylvania — in what turned out to be a Super Tuesday “lite” of the 2014 midterm election cycle. Below are the ABC News Political Unit’s top takeaways (abridged) from the key contests. READ MORE: http://abcn.ws/1jCHbim FULL RESULTS: http://abcn.ws/1jACC8f
1. The Tea Party is Losing the Battles: With Matt Bevin’s crushing loss to Mitch McConnell in Kentucky, on the heels of smaller tea party failures in North Carolina and Texas, the major tea party-aligned groups are whiffing. Mississippi looms as the only thing standing between those groups and a primary-season oh-fer.
2. The Tea Party is Winning the War: Incumbent Republicans are surviving not by taking on the tea party but by bending toward the tea party’s will. It’s been labeled “Cruz control,” and it’s a path to survival. Critics of Bevin’s failed bid are saying he didn’t do much to distinguish himself from McConnell. In truth, McConnell didn’t give him much space.
3. The Clintons are Beatable: The evening’s big shocker was the lopsided loss suffered by Marjorie Margolies, who had the full weight of the Clinton political machine behind her as she tried to recapture a House race in Pennsylvania. Margolies would have been the favorite in the race even if her son hadn’t married Chelsea.
4. Mitch McConnell is a Vicious Campaigner: McConnell and his team saw possible flaws in opponent Matt Bevin’s background and pounced, hammering him nonstop. They were able to brand him as “Bailout Bevin,” whether the story behind it was as easy as a nickname or not.
5. Primaries Can Hurt: In Oregon — despite days of revelations about her personal life — Monica Wehby, won the state’s Republican primary for U.S. Senate. Oregon is a vote by mail state so it’s possible she won before the embarrassing stories came to light. But she goes into the general election with incumbent Democratic Sen. Jeff Merkley wounded.
HAPPENING TODAY: For the first time since the scandal over treatment delays broke, President Obama will meet with embattled VA Secretary Shinseki this morning to “receive an update on the situation at the Department of Veterans Affairs,” according to ABC’s MARY BRUCE. They will be joined by Rob Nabors, Obama’s Deputy Chief of Staff, who has been assigned to assist with the review of the Veterans Affairs Department. The meeting comes ahead of Nabors visit tomorrow to the VA medical facility in Phoenix.
ABC’s JEFF ZELENY: The fight for control of the Senate hinges on women — not just voters, but candidates. Alison Lundergan Grimes and Michelle Nunn are fresh off their Democratic primary victories last night in Kentucky and Georgia. Neither state has elected a woman to the U.S. Senate. The same is true of West Virginia, where two women are on the fall ballot. And for Republicans, Dr. Monica Wehby’s win in Oregon gives the party another potential state to compete in. At the same time, some of the most vulnerable Democratic incumbents also are women: Mary Landrieu, Kay Hagan and Jeanne Shaheen. Their contests will determine if Republicans win the Senate. The importance of women voters was underscored in Mitch McConnell’s victory speech last night, who said: “My wife is not just an American success story, she’s an inspiration. And I’m so lucky to have Elaine Chao in my life and at my side.” So for all the political talk of the war on women, in the Senate, it’s actually the war of the women.
ABC’s RICK KLEIN: It’s complicated, as you might expect with anything related to the Clintons. Their legacy showed a soft spot in the Philadelphia area, where the campaign efforts of both Bill and Hillary Clinton couldn’t salvage a congressional seat for a former House member whose son happens to be married to Chelsea. Even with Marjorie Margolies’ back-to-the-’90s campaign theme – and attacks on her chief rival by NARAL and EMILY’s List – a 37-year-old state representative won the crowded primary, with Margolies a distant second. At the same time, the Clinton legacy is stronger than ever in the critical Senate contests in Republican-leaning states. Just yesterday, Democrats nominated Mark Pryor in Arkansas (son of a close Clinton friend), Michelle Nunn in Georgia (her father left the Senate midway through the Clinton presidency), and Alison Lundergan Grimes in Kentucky (her dad is also close to the Clintons). Grimes’ victory speech even leaned in to a potential new Clinton presidency: “I won’t answer to the president, no matter who he — or she — might be,” she said.
ABC’s SHUSHANNAH WALSHE: The race is on in Kentucky. Now that Mitch McConnell’s primary is over, his fire will be aimed directly at Alison Lundergan Grimes and she knows it. The Democratic Secretary of State is out with a new television ad today, her campaign’s second. Wearing a blue blazer, Grimes looks directly at the camera and tells the viewer she wants to “take a moment to talk with you about why I’m running for senate. ”This is a frustrating time in our country,” Grimes says. “The economy is still struggling, people are working harder for less and here in Kentucky, we feel it more than most. And it seems no matter how many elections we have, nothing gets better in Washington. It only gets worse. A lot of that is because of the people at the top in both political parties. If we keep sending them back, nothing will change.” Despite the senate minority leader’s attacks last night when he said in his speech Grimes has been “practicing party politics since she learned to talk,” she promises to “put partisanship aside” and “work with both Democrats and Republicans to do what’s right for Kentucky.” She then answers the hit that has been tossed at her and will continue to be saying, “no matter who the president is, I won’t answer to them. I’ll only answer to you.” Grimes’ campaign wouldn’t say exactly how much the ad buy is, but describe it is a six figure statewide buy. And as for Grimes’ first stop of the general election, she will visit Beattyville, where last month a local newspaper reported McConnell as saying “that is not my job” when asked about what he would do to jumpstart local economic development. And this is just the beginning. WATCH: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=gPUBiDoaxr0
MITCH MCCONELL CRUSHES TEA PARTY CHALLENGER. Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell beat his tea party challenger Matt Bevin, ABC’s SHUSHANNAH WALSHE reports. McConnell was expected to win the Kentucky GOP Senate Primary, but his decisive victory blew the tea party out of the water, and McConnell gets to start the general election with the wind at his back, despite the serious challenge from Secretary of State Alison Lundergan Grimes, a Democrat half his age. McConnell aimed to unite the party, even pausing his speech to ask the crowd to applaud his opponent saying Bevin “brought a lot of passion and tenacity to this race and he made me a stronger candidate.” “A tough race is behind us. It’s time to unite,” McConnell said. “Know your fight is my fight.” http://abcn.ws/R6fdic
NOTED: CONSERVATIVE GROUPS SPIN A LOSS IN KENTUCKY PRIMARY. In a conspicuous attempt to turn lemons into lemonade, outside tea party groups backing Louisville businessman Matt Bevin tried to spin last night’s Kentucky GOP loss and claim some sort of “victory,” according to ABC’s KATHERINE FAULDERS. Several outside Tea Party groups, including the Madison Project, the Tea Party Patriots, FreedomWorks, and the Senate Conservatives Fund, Mitch McConnell’s chief irritator, spent over $1 million to help boost hopeful Matt Bevin. http://abcn.ws/1ndbL4y
CLINTON-IN-LAW MARJORIE MARGOLIES TOPPLED IN PENNSYLVANIA RACE. Despite the support of both former President Bill Clinton and former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, Marjorie Margolies, Chelsea Clinton’s mother-in-law, has lost her Democratic primary bid for the Congress, ABC’s BETSY KLEIN reports. The Associated Press called the race for her opponent, Brendan Boyle. At 37, Boyle, a state legislator, is 15 years younger than his next-youngest opponent. His campaign raised the least amount of money. He lacked his opponents’ powerful connections to the Philadelphia political establishment. And yet, he just beat the Clinton family at its own game. http://abcn.ws/Tsh0QV
NOT OVER YET: GEORGIA’S GOP SENATE PRIMARY GIVES WAY TO RUNOFF. In Georgia’s competitive Senate race, Republicans have narrowed their choices to two. The results Tuesday night seemed to be a blow to the Tea Party, though not necessarily to conservatives, ABC’s CHRIS GOOD notes. As expected, businessman David Perdue topped the field of seven GOP candidates vying in Tuesday’s primary to run against Democrat Michelle Nunn this fall. Nunn won her primary by a wide margin tonight. Because he apparently collected less than 50 percent of the vote, Perdue will advance to a primary runoff on July 22 against fellow Republican Rep. Jack Kinston. http://abcn.ws/1vDhQZj
with ABC’s ALINA KLEINEIDAM
CANTOR ‘DISTURBED’ BY OBAMA’S RESPONSE TO VA SCANDAL. House Majority Leader Eric Cantor called on President Obama to “take responsibility” for an alleged secret list that officials used to manipulate backlog data at the Veterans Administration, leading to extended wait periods for veterans seeking healthcare and causing at least 23 deaths, according to ABC’s JOHN PARKINSON. “I will tell you, I am disturbed by statements out of the White House that say that the president heard about this in the news,” Cantor, R-Va., fumed. “It is time for our president to come forward and take responsibility for this and do the right thing by these veterans and begin to show that he actually cares about getting it straight.” http://abcn.ws/SeZdfd
WHAT A U.S. MILITARY EVACUATION IN LIBYA MIGHT LOOK LIKE. With the security situation in Libya deteriorating daily, the Pentagon has placed 250 Marines and aircraft in Sicily as a precautionary move should the State Department request the evacuation of American staff from the embassy in Tripoli, Libya, military officials said yesterday, ABC’s LUIS MARTINEZ notes. But if the Marines are called in, what would an evacuation look like? Depending on security conditions, it could range from simply providing perimeter security for Americans boarding military aircraft to a more dangerous mission where military aircraft quickly land at a secret gathering spot under the cover of darkness to minimize exposure to hostile combat conditions, officials said. http://abcn.ws/1kmKgC4
FLORIDA LAWMAKER WARNS COMMON CORE WILL TURN CHILDREN ‘HOMOSEXUAL.’ Over the past few months, the new U.S. education standard known as the “Common Core” has attracted its fair share of negative attention by opponents, ABC’s ALINA KLEINEIDAM reports. But Florida Republican State Rep. Charles Van Zant took the Common Core critique to a new level by claiming that the educational initiative promoted by the Obama administration will turn your children “homosexual.” Van Zant made the comments at an Orlando education conference back in March, but the video of his remarks went viral on Tuesday. http://abcn.ws/1oPdQ6q
WHAT YOU CAN DO WITH FACEBOOK’S ‘I’M A VOTER’ BUTTON. Facebook has launched a global version of its “I’m a Voter” button. So, what is it good for and what can you do with it, ABC’s KATHERINE FAULDERS asked. Think of it as a digital version of the “I voted” sticker. The concept is easy: You click the megaphone button and Facebook will add a badge to your profile, letting your Facebook friends know that you voted. But it won’t broadcast who you voted for. Facebook estimates that 400 million people around the world will see the button show up in their news feeds this year. http://abcn.ws/1mTGjph
MICHELE BACHMANN’S GUIDE TO PARENTING 28 KIDS. Parenting 28 children might sound like chaos. But not for Michele Bachmann. During a recent appearance on the Hallmark Channel’s “Home and Family” show the retiring GOP congresswoman from Minnesota argued that “the more you have, the more order you have in your house,” according to ABC’s ALINA KLEINEIDAM. In the interview, Bachmann opened up about what it’s like to be a mother figure to five biological and 23 foster children. “This is really what I wanted more than anything, was to be a happy mom in a big house,” Bachmann said. “That’s what I wanted — just to have a house full of kids.” Despite having an average of nine children at once in her house at any given moment, Bachmann insisted that thanks to the buddy system she developed, taking care of things in the house gets easier with more children. http://abcn.ws/1sQigHH
IN CASE YOU MISSED IT
STUDENTS AND STARS BRING DOWN THE HOUSE AT WHITE HOUSE TALENT SHOW. From a kids chorus line with Sarah Jessica Parker to a blaring brass band led by Alfre Woodard to, yes, the occasional off-key note, the first-ever White House Talent Show did not disappoint, according to ABC’s MARY BRUCE. “Come on girls, bring it home!” Parker shouted as she put her arms around students from the Martin Luther King, Jr. School in Portland, Ore., for the big finish of their performance of “You’re Never Fully Dressed” from Annie. The highly entertaining event, hosted by the First Lady and the President’s Committee on the Arts and Humanities, featured performances by major artists alongside students from schools in the Turnaround Arts program, which helps low-performing schools boost student achievement through arts education. http://abcn.ws/1lMwzur
WHAT WE’RE WATCHING
DRONE PROPHECY? COUNTERTERRORISM EXPERT’S THRILLER NOVEL DEALS IN REAL-WORLD VULNERABILITIES. As the former top counterterrorism official to President Bush, Richard Clarke has lived through his share of high-stakes crises. Now, as the author of a new thriller novel, Clarke exploits real-world weaknesses of the nation’s drone program to pen a fictional plot that reads like an ominous prophecy. “The drone program is not an end in itself, it’s a tool,” Clarke told “Top Line’s” RICK KLEIN and OLIVIER KNOX “We don’t have a lot of tools that work and the drone strikes did work up to a point to do one thing, which was to kill terrorist leaders; and so we used it, and we used it, and we used it, and I think perhaps we overused it.” Clarke, a leading advocate for the establishment and use of the nation’s drone program in the years following the attacks of 9/11, noted there have been some devastating blunders made along the way. “We blew up a wedding not too long ago,” Clarke said of a U.S. strike gone wrong in Yemen. Mistakes like this, Clarke warned, have the potential of inciting more terrorism. WATCH: http://yhoo.it/1sTGz7G
@matthewjdowd: The Oakland As lost the World Series but changed the game with moneyball. Teaparty might have lost some elections, but have changed GOP.
@Alex_Roarty: . @club4growth‘s Chocola on new GOP primary reality: “The world has changed. We need to recognize that, and we do.” http://www.nationaljournal.com/hotline-on-call/time-for-conservatives-to-ditch-the-tea-party-20140521 …
@KiritRadia: Putin: troops never on #Ukraine border but close, pulled back to avoid speculation about their intention & improve Ukraine elex atmosphere
@samsteinhp: CW today is “The Power Of The Chamber”…. hard (not impossible) to balance that w/ their inability to move House GOP on immigration reform
@NKingofDC: So Grimes got 96K more votes than McConnell. And 51K more Dems voted in the KY Senate primaries than Rs. http://www.courier-journal.com/story/news/politics/elections/2014/05/20/see-live-kentucky-election/9347345/ …