Liz Halloran

Mike Simpson has been atop the Tea Party hit list for much of this election year.

And Tuesday's primary contest between the Idaho Republican congressman and Tea Party challenger Bryan Smith had been billed as a big one in a string of GOP primary mashups that would signal the sway of the Tea Party faction — or the ability of traditional conservatives like Simpson to fight back in a deep red state.

"It's been a real-deal campaign here in Idaho," says Skip Smyser, the conservative founder of Boise-based government relations firm Lobby Idaho.

Wednesday's GOP gubernatorial primary debate in Idaho should carry a disclaimer: NOT a Saturday Night Live skit.

It was that amazing.

And it had nothing to do with the ongoing conflict between the Tea Party and the Republican establishment.

Conservative money has poured into Nebraska's Republican Senate primary race.

Big GOP names like Texas Sen. Ted Cruz and Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell are on opposite sides.

And the attack ads have been brutal — including one that took a page directly from the Swift-boating of John Kerry's military record during his 2004 presidential run.

Fifty-six years ago this weekend, newspapers across the nation told a sad tale of a family seemingly imploding.

At the center of the story was Coya Knutson, the opera-singing daughter of a Norwegian farmer, and the first woman from Minnesota elected to Congress.

Voted in on her own merits, not appointed to keep a late husband's seat warm for a successor, the trailblazing mother could only watch as vengeful party rivals, a manufactured scandal, and a feckless, alcoholic husband combined to sabotage her career.

It all came to a head on the eve of Mother's Day 1958.

Monica Wehby is the Senate candidate Republicans have been waiting for: a camera-ready pediatric neurosurgeon, mother of four, in a party that desperately needs to elect more women.

Make that a candidate some Republicans have been waiting for.

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