By Reid Wilson
March 2, 2016 at 12:35 pm ET
Republicans in three Southern states fought back poorly funded conservative challengers on Tuesday, avoiding potentially costly — and threatening — runoffs that would have set members in other states on edge.
In Alabama, Sen. Richard Shelby leveraged his massive campaign war chest to beat back four challengers, including retired Marine Jonathan McConnell. Shelby, who spent more than $5 million on television and radio ads ahead of Tuesday’s primary, took 65 percent of the vote, easily avoiding a runoff.
Rep. Bradley Byrne beat back Dean Young in a rematch of their 2014 showdown, while Rep. Martha Roby fought off a tea party challenger by nearly 40 points.
Several Texas Republicans fended off challengers fueled by conservatives turning out for Tuesday’s presidential primaries, too. Reps. John Culberson, Kevin Brady and Blake Farenthold, who hold Houston-area seats, won with less than 60 percent of the vote; Reps. Lamar Smith and Pete Sessions narrowly topped 60 percent.
On the Democratic side, only one incumbent, Rep. Gene Green, faced a serious challenge. The Houston-area Democrat, who represents a heavily Hispanic district, fought off former Harris County Sheriff Adrian Garcia by a 58 percent to 38 percent margin.
The results will be a relief to incumbents in states such as Ohio, which hold congressional primaries on the same day as presidential primaries. Some had worried that a surge in turnout, spurred by fans of real estate mogul Donald Trump or arch-conservative Sen. Ted Cruz, might aid challengers promising to turn a page in Washington.
Reid Wilson previously worked at Morning Consult as an editor.