WASHINGTON — In another setback for the tea party, two-term Rep. James Lankford of Oklahoma won the GOP nomination in the race to succeed Sen. Tom Coburn, who is stepping down with two years left in his term. In the solidly Republican state, Lankford is all but assured of becoming the next senator. Part of the House GOP leadership, Lankford defeated T.W. Shannon, a member of the Chickasaw Nation and the state’s first black House speaker, backed by former vice presidential candidate Sarah Palin and Texas Sen. Ted Cruz, two stalwarts of the right.
Despite Congress’ abysmal public approval ratings, incumbents have largely prevailed midway through the primary season – with two notable exceptions.
Little-known college professor Dave Brat knocked out House Majority Leader Eric Cantor in Virginia’s Republican primary this month, and Republican Rep. Ralph Hall, 91, lost in a Texas runoff to a younger Republican.
The busy June primary day also included New York, Oklahoma, Colorado, Maryland and Utah.
• In a special House election on Florida’s Gulf Coast, voters chose Republican businessman Curt Clawson to replace former Rep. Trey Radel, who resigned in January after pleading guilty to cocaine possession.
• In Colorado on Tuesday, former Rep. Bob Beauprez won the crowded gubernatorial primary that included 2008 presidential candidate Tom Tancredo, an immigration opponent. That was welcome news to national Republicans who feared that Tancredo could be a drag on the GOP ticket in November. Beauprez will face Democratic Gov. John Hickenlooper.
• In Maryland, Lt. Gov. Anthony Brown won the Democratic primary for governor as the state chose a successor to outgoing Democratic Gov. Martin O'Malley, who is considering a 2016 presidential bid. If elected in the Democratic-leaning state, Brown would make history as one of the few African-American governors; Massachusetts’ Deval Patrick is retiring.
• In Utah, Republican state Sen. Evan Vickers fended off a primary challenge Tuesday from former lawmaker Casey Andersen, a comeback after Vickers narrowly avoided being booted out of the southern Utah race during a nominating convention earlier this year. Vickers secured 67 percent of the vote over Anderson, an edge of about 2,600 votes.