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Turn the page: GOP incumbents hold the line

In this Aug. 5, 2014 photo, Sen. Lamar Alexander, R-Tenn., walks to a campaign stop with his daughter, Leslee Alexander, left, and granddaughter, Taylor Irwin, in Lawrenceburg, Tenn.

In this Aug. 5, 2014 photo, Sen. Lamar Alexander, R-Tenn., walks to a campaign stop with his daughter, Leslee Alexander, left, and granddaughter, Taylor Irwin, in Lawrenceburg, Tenn.  (AP)

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Buzz Cut:
• Turn the page: GOP incumbents hold the line
• Dem infighting underscores Hawaii primary
• Pick six:  Big Sky scandal tops political pros
• Clintons ‘slum it’ at summer home
• No bones in that, right?

NASHVILLE – The conservative insurgency won’t be able to oust an incumbent moderate Republican Senator this cycle. With Tennessee Sen. Lamar Alexander’s closer-than-expected but still convincing primary victory over state Rep. Joe Carr here last night, the only incumbent still facing a primary is Sen. Mike Enzi, R-Wyo., on Aug. 19, and he’s a staunch conservative who already beat back a challenge from the establishment.

This year is different than the last two campaign cycles, in which national groups, with the Senate Conservatives Fund at the fore, have been able to pick off at least one moderate incumbent. They came achingly close in Mississippi, some 8,000 votes shy in a runoff, but they could not pull it off. In 2010, the RINO hunt knocked off Sen. Robert Bennett in Utah and forced Sen. Arlen Specter of Pennsylvania to flee the party. In 2012, it was Sen. Richard Lugar, R-Ind., who went down.

While there have been RINO safaris in the field at least since the 1960s, they didn’t do much good until the past four years. The last incumbent Republican senator to lose a primary prior to 2010 was New Hampshire’s Bob Smith, who had left and returned to the party surrounding an ill-advised 2000 presidential run. Smith lost to double establishmentarian John E. Sununu in 2002.

Before Smith, you have to reach all the way back to 1980 to find a Republican senator ousted in a primary: New York Sen. Jacob Javits, who was defeated by Al D’Amato, a definite insurgent. (Yes, Sam Brownback beat Sheila Frahm in Kansas in 1996, but she had just been appointed weeks before, so it doesn’t count.) In the 20 years prior to 1980, Republican primary voters had only tossed out incumbents twice. Over the same 20-year span, 14 Democrat incumbents lost their primaries.

So what happens now? -  Is this just a lull in the conflict or is the start of something else? Part of what led former Sen. Jim DeMint, R-S.C., to establish the Senate Conservatives Fund were famous frustrations like Specter and former Rhode Island Sen. Linc Chaffee, who, like Specter, ended up becoming a Democrat. The outrage over seeing incumbents, who publicly attacked conservatism getting money and support from the ostensibly conservative party in 2004 and 2006, lit the fuse.

But there aren’t any Chaffee-style Republicans left in the Senate. There are a handful of moderates like Alexander, Mississippi’s Thad Cochran, Maine’s Susan Collins, and South Carolina’s Lindsey Graham, but as this cycle showed, rooting out a well-established moderate who sees the threat coming is hard to do. Graham, previously considered in big trouble for his support of an Obama-backed immigration deal as well as proposed global-warming fees, didn’t even break a sweat.

Alexander’s win may mark the beginning of the end of this phase of the fight.

The GOP overall has moved right since 2008 and certainly the conservative faction will continue to grow in the Senate with the next class (Nebraska’s Ben Sasse, Arkansas’ Tom Cotton and Iowa’s Joni Ernst come to mind as potential reinforcements for the right) but the act of a national effort to sack moderate incumbents may be over.

There are two reasons why: First, the emphasis in the struggle moves fully to the 2016 presidential field starting right now. The energy that was dedicated to trying to oust moderate Republican senators or punish Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell is already pouring into the question of whether the GOP will nominate a moderate again or if the conservatives can manage to carry the day and that will preoccupy the party through the next cycle. Second, it’s just too darned expensive.

At a cost of $135 million so far, GOP primary fights have done nothing so much as enrich consultants and local TV stations. And Republicans are behind Democrats and their allies in fundraising for the fall, making the cost of the primary season more painful. Getting donors to shell out for the next season of RINO hunting will be harder without any trophies on the wall form this year.

Rep.Scott DesJarlais, R-Tenn. is in a close battle with state Sen. Jim Tracy for his seat in Tennessee's Republican primary. Ballot results show scandal ridden DesJarlais with just a 33-vote margin ahead of Tracey. The race may ultimately be decided on a possible recount. In 2012, Desjarlais won re-election despite urging a patient he once dated to seek an abortion. After the 2012 election, transcripts of his divorce proceedings revealed he had eight affairs and used a gun to intimidate his first wife.

Time to catch-up on the rules of storing ketchup. Mayor of London Boris Johnson created a condiment controversy during a Twitter Q&A this week when he tweeted that keeping too much food in the fridge is a “waste of energy” and “keeping ketchup in the cupboard is fine.” The comment set off a series of critical responses on Twitter under the hashtag #AskBoris arguing refrigerators use less energy when they're full. The Telegraph also criticized Johnson saying he is, “wrong not to store his ketchup in the fridge, if that’s what it says on the bottle,” reporting a list of condiments that should be kept in the fridge including Jam, Soy Sauce, Marmalade, Chutney, Mustard, Salad Dressing, Mayonnaise and Eggs. According to the California Energy Commission, a full refrigerator does retain cold better than an empty one, and if your refrigerator is nearly empty you should store water-filled containers inside since the mass of cold items will enable the refrigerator to recover more quickly after the door has been opened, yet overfilling it will interfere with the circulation of cold air inside.

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Real Clear Politics Averages
Obama Job Approval
: Approve – 41.6 percent//Disapprove – 54.2 percent
Direction of Country: Right Direction – 25.2 percent//Wrong Track – 67.7 percent
Generic Congressional Ballot:  Democrats – 43.4 percent// Republicans 41.8 percent

Scrambling to find a last gasp candidate in Montana after embattled Democratic Sen. John Walsh dropped out of the Montana Senate race Thursday, Democrats’ intraparty struggles come to a head in Saturday’s Hawaii’s primary. Both Democratic Sen. Brian Schatz and Gov. Neil Abercrombie face formidable primary challenges in which the legacy of the late Sen. Daniel Inouye, D-Hawaii, looms large.

[Former Montana Gov. Brian Schweitzer (D) tweeted Thursday he has ruled out running for Sen. John Walsh’s seat and thanked Walsh for his service.]

Before his death in 2012, Inouye asked Abercrombie to appoint Rep. Colleen Hanabusa, D-Hawaii, to take his place in the Senate.  Instead, Abercrombie opted for his lieutenant governor, Schatz, opening up an often nasty primary challenge. Meantime, veteran Democratic state Sen. David Ige has waged a strong campaign against Abercrombie, whose first term has alienated union and other key Democratic supporters. President Obama has endorsed both Schatz and Abercrombie, and while state surveys been contradictory, a recent Hawaii Poll by the two local media organizations showed Hanabusa leading Schatz 50 percent to 42 percent.  There has been more agreement on Abercrombie’s vulnerability however with polls showing the incumbent trailing Ige despite holding a huge advantage in fundraising. Whichever Democrat emerges victorious Saturday won’t have a free ride in November, facing a strong challenge from Republican former Lt. Gov. Duke Aiona.

[Stormy weather - Wapo reports on how two hurricanes bearing down on Hawaii could boost the lot of challengers in Saturday’s primary]

[Polls close in Hawaii at 6pm Hawaii time, 12am ET. Election results can be tracked at the Hawaii Office of Elections and keep up with online reports at Fox]

The Hill: “Sen. Lisa Murkowski, R-Alaska, has called in lawyers and sent a “cease and desist” letter Thursday to force Sen. Mark Begich, D-Alaska to stop using her in his latest campaign ad arguing the advertisement is factually incorrect and misuses Senator Murkowski's image, implying her support without her permission.”

Sen. Mark Pryor (D-AR)
released a new political ad on immigration against challenger Rep. Tom Cotton's (R-AR) which quotes Sen. John McCain (R-AZ) saying "anyone who calls it amnesty is not being intellectually honest." The Hill reports this ad is firing back at a recent Cotton ad that says Pryor "voted for amnesty [and] citizenship for illegals.”

The Concerned Veterans of America is hitting Sen. Kay Hagan’s, D-N.C., record on problems with veterans’ healthcare. “She knew about problems, the ad says and under her watch things got worse, the ad says.  “Tell  Kay Hagan, no more broken promises.” worse”

-- 88 DAYS UNTIL NOV. 4 --

Republicans need to flip an additional six Senate seats from blue to red to gain control of the upper chamber. Fox News First readers think the most likely states to switch are: Arkansas (13.6%), Louisiana (11.9%), Montana (11.9%), West Virginia (11.2%), South Dakota (10.5%) and North Carolina (10.0%). In this week’s installment of Power Play: Political Pros, Host Chris Stirewalt welcomes Democratic strategist Joe Trippi and lobbyist Matt Keelen who highlight their picks, with a focus on the travails of Sen. John Walsh, D-Mont. How do your picks stack up against the pros? Find out here.

[Trippi and Keelen also discussed how the issue of immigration and border control will have political consequences in the midterm races. Watch here.]

Share your top six picks. Email them – just your top six, please – to FOXNEWSFIRST@FOXNEWS.COM or tweet @cstirewalt.

New Hampshire Democratic Governor Maggie Hassan had to return improper campaign contributions from two union groups in the week. Concord (N.H.) Monitor: “Hassan’s campaign returned $33,000 in contributions from two political action committees on Monday. The Attorney General’s office ruled last week that Hassan had to return $24,000 to the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers PAC because it was received a day late. But the campaign confirmed [Thursday] that it also returned $9,000 to [the Plummers and Steamfitters political committee] as first reported by the Nashua Telegraph.”

HostHoward Kurtz
and Republican political pollster Frank Luntz delve into a focus group discussion on why Americans don’t trust the media. Fox News Sunday anchor Chris Wallace shares his expertise in confronting evasive politicians on Sunday mornings. And Amy Holmes of The Blaze, Fox News contributors Leslie Marshall and Lauren Ashburn round out the buzz with the latest on media coverage of President Obama. Watch “#mediabuzz” Sunday at 11 a.m. ET, with a second airing at 5 p.m.

New in Fox News Opinion, Senator Marco Rubio, R-Fla., issues an urgent call to Congress to block an ObamaCare’s bailout for insurance companies: “Knowing that the current U.S. House of Representatives will never appropriate money for this bailout, the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) figured out a way to use general funds available through the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services to pay off health insurers. The effect is to circumvent Congress' power of the purse for the purpose of bailing out health insurers with taxpayer funds. On this ObamaCare bailout, as with so many issues, Washington politicians are misleading average Americans and planning to stick them with the bill. This is government favoritism and corporate cronyism at its worst.”

The Clintons supposedly 'downsizing' their summer home to a simple $18 million house in the Hamptons. Former President Bill Clinton and ex secretary of State Hillary Clinton are expected this week at the five-bedroom property. This comes after Mrs. Clinton controversially declared they were 'dead broke' after leaving the White House in 2000. Sources tell the Daily Mail, they are paying $100,000 for their three-week stay - saving $100,000 from last year's luxury rental in Sagaponack.

If you’re trying to shake out the cobwebs with a next day libation after a summer party, what garnishes do you prefer with your Bloody Mary? A bit of celery, lemon, onions, tomatoes? Feeling more adventurous? Well, a Milwaukee bar serves up all that and more, UPI reports. “[Soleman’s] has introduced a new drink, ‘Chicken Fried Bloody Beast,’ that features…cheese, sausage, pickles, olives, onions, mushrooms, asparagus, scallions, shrimp, lemon, Brussels sprouts, tomatoes, celery…topped off with an entire fried chicken.” Yum!

“I think they’re going to go for a Hail Mary here. They are looking at a very bad election coming up in November and this is about the only issue that occupies his mind and seems to energize him – elections. He’s a good campaigner. He’s not a great president.”Charles Krauthammer on “On the Record with Greta Van SusterenWatch here.

Chris Stirewalt is digital politics editor for Fox News. Want FOX News First in your inbox every day? Sign up

Chris Stirewalt joined Fox News Channel (FNC) in July of 2010 and serves as politics editor based in Washington, D.C. Additionally, he authors the daily Fox News Halftime Report political news note and co-hosts the hit podcast, Perino & Stirewalt: I'll Tell You What. He also is the host of Power Play, a feature video series on Stirewalt makes frequent appearances on network programs, including America’s Newsroom, Special Report with Bret Baier and Fox News Sunday with Chris Wallace. He also provides expert political analysis for FNC’s coverage of state, congressional and presidential elections.