Graham, Cantor face electoral tests Tuesday


McClatchy Washington Bureau

The tea party and staunch conservatives are eager to topple Sen. Lindsey Graham, R-S.C., and House Majority Leader Eric Cantor, R-Va., in Republican primaries Tuesday--but the incumbents are viewed as fairly safe.

Graham needs a majority in South Carolina’s primary to avoid a runoff in two weeks, and last week’s Clemson University Palmetto Poll had his support at 49 percent. Graham has been criticized for his efforts to craft a compromise on overhauling the nation’s immigration laws, but the poll suggests the tea party’s effort to defeat him or even come close has gained little traction.

In Virginia, Cantor has also been blasted for not being tough enough on immigration. Economics professor David Brat has blasted Cantor as the candidate of “open borders and lower wages,” and his effort has forced Cantor to fight hard to win the primary. Cantor has tried to brand Brat as liberal.

A loss, or poor showing, by Graham or Cantor would be seen as a big upset. The tea party scored its biggest win of the 2014 primary season a week ago, when State Sen. Chris McDaniel narrowly topped Sen. Thad Cochran in Mississippi’s Republican primary. They’ll meet again in a June 24 runoff.

Voters are also heading to the polls Tuesday in Maine, Arkansas, North Dakota and Nevada.

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