With less than a week to go until Election Day, it appears the GOP establishment has helped North Carolina House Speaker Thom Tillis (R) pull away from his primary rivals.

North Carolina Gov. Pat McCrory (R) became the latest big-name Republican to back Tillis against his primary rivals this week. Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnellAddison (Mitch) Mitchell McConnellGOP strategist donates to Alabama Democrat McConnell names Senate GOP tax conferees Brent Budowsky: A plea to Alabama voters MORE (R-Ky.), Karl Rove and Sen. Richard BurrRichard Mauze BurrSessions argued presidents can obstruct justice in Clinton impeachment trial Trump Jr. to meet with Senate panel amid Russia probe Trump’s Russian winter grows colder with Flynn plea deal MORE (R-N.C.) have all lent a hand with fundraising at different points, and Rove’s American Crossroads and the U.S. Chamber of Commerce have been spending heavily on his behalf, with more than $2 million combined in TV ads. Former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush (R) is also set to endorse him, according to the National Review.

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That’s helped vault Tillis to a big lead over his most significant primary rivals, Baptist minister Mark Harris (R) and Tea Party candidate Greg Brannon (R). A number of recent polls have found Tillis closing in on 40 percent, the number he needs next Tuesday to avoid a runoff and allow him to conserve resources for the fall battle with Sen. Kay HaganKay HaganPolitics is purple in North Carolina Democrats can win North Carolina just like Jimmy Carter did in 1976 North Carolina will be a big battleground state in 2020 MORE (D-N.C.).

Brannon and Harris have failed to catch fire despite some big-name endorsements of their own: Sens. Rand PaulRandal (Rand) Howard PaulLexington mayor launches bid for Congress Trump-free Kennedy Center Honors avoids politics Meet the Iran hawk who could be Trump's next secretary of State MORE (R-Ky.) and Mike LeeMichael (Mike) Shumway LeeSupreme Court takes on same-sex wedding cake case House approves motion to go to tax conference — with drama Trump really will shrink government, starting with national monuments MORE (R-Utah) are backing Brannon and former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee (R) is backing Harris, though Brannon could get a boost out of a rally with Paul next Monday.

The race is the first major test of establishment Republicans’ pushback against the Tea Party — and if Tillis can win the primary outright, it’ll be a big win.

 

SENATE SHOWDOWN

AR-SEN (PRYOR): Sen. Mark PryorMark PryorMedicaid rollback looms for GOP senators in 2020 Cotton pitches anti-Democrat message to SC delegation Ex-Sen. Kay Hagan joins lobby firm MORE (D-Ark.) leads Rep. Tom CottonTom CottonGOP and Dems bitterly divided by immigration Grassley offers DACA fix tied to tough enforcement measures Five things senators should ask Tom Cotton if he’s nominated to lead the CIA MORE (R-Ark.) by 43 percent to 42 percent in a new automated poll from the liberal Public Policy Polling, the latest survey to find Pryor ahead by a narrow margin. 

GA-SEN (OPEN): Rep. Jack Kingston’s (R-Ga.) latest ad features his kids calling him “cheap.”

IA-SEN (OPEN): Businessman Mark Jacobs (R) is out with an ad featuring his kids telling him to tout himself as “a businessman, a problem solver.” The self-funding candidate is in a crowded primary and seems to be battling for first place against Iowa state Sen. Joni Ernst (R). Former U.S. Attorney Matt Whitaker (R), who’s also running, released his first ad, touting his time on the University of Iowa football team and his work in office.

KY-SEN (MCCONNELL): Sen. Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) received nearly $10,000 over the past 13 years from Cintas Corporation Chairman Richard Farmer, whose company is facing a lawsuit alleging it engaged in gender discrimination in its hiring practices, according to Business Insider. The report is sure to provide fodder for Democrats as they make a play for female voters in the race. 

Meanwhile, Democrat Alison Lundergan Grimes launched a new Web ad hitting McConnell over comments he made last week concerning job creation. But Republicans were on the attack on Wednesday as well, targeting her for a planned fundraiser with Ohio Democratic Sen. Sherrod BrownSherrod Campbell BrownThe Hill's 12:30 Report Avalanche of Democratic senators say Franken should resign Overnight Regulation: Feds push to clarify regs on bump stocks | Interior wants Trump to shrink two more monuments | Navajo Nation sues over monument rollback | FCC won't delay net neutrality vote | Senate panel approves bill easing Dodd-Frank rules MORE, whom they characterized as anti-coal.

MS-SEN (COCHRAN): The Club for Growth is hitting Sen. Thad CochranWilliam (Thad) Thad CochranObstruction of justice watch: Trump attacks the FBI America isn't ready to let Sessions off his leash The Hill's Whip List: Where Republicans stand on Senate tax bill MORE (R-Miss.) for refusing to accept invitations to debate with his primary challenger, state Sen. Chris McDaniel. The group, which is backing McDaniel, launched a radio and television ad charging that “after five decades in Washington, Cochran won’t even come home to defend his record.”

OK-SEN (OPEN): In his new ad in the Oklahoma Senate GOP primary, Rep. James Lankford (R-Okla.) sits around a table with supporters and chats about the reasons he opposes ObamaCare. “We’re losing our freedom, and we’re losing it quickly because of this administration,” he says in the ad.

OR-SEN (MERKLEY): A super-PAC launched by Republican strategist Alex Castellanos launched ads in the Oregon Senate Republican primary boosting Monica Wehby’s profile. The Oregonian went up Tuesday with a piece outlining controversy over the pediatric neurosurgeon’s surgery practices.

 

BATTLE FOR THE HOUSE

ID-2 (SIMPSON): Rep. Mike Simpson (R-Idaho) is up with a new ad touting former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney’s (R) endorsement. Meanwhile, the Madison Project is out with an ad slamming Simpson as a "Nancy Pelosi Republican" in support of Tea Party candidate Bryan Smith (R).

NY-1 (BISHOP): State Sen. Lee Zeldin (R), vying with attorney George Demos for the chance to challenge Rep. Tim BishopTimothy (Tim) Howard BishopDems separated by 29 votes in NY House primary Flint residents hire first K Street firm House moves to vote on .1T package; backup plan in place MORE (D-N.Y.), attacks Demos for taking campaign contributions from donors “with deep ties to Nancy Pelosi” in a new radio ad.

WV-3 (RAHALL): The Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee hit West Virginia state Sen. Evan Jenkins, the Republican challenging Rep. Nick RahallNick RahallLikely W.Va. Senate GOP rivals spar in radio appearances West Virginia is no longer Clinton country Solution needed: Rail congestion is stifling economic growth MORE (D), for receiving the maximum contribution from David Koch, one of the billionaire brothers that have been pouring millions into attacks on vulnerable Democrats, including Rahall. The donation came after Rahall launched an ad targeting attacks from “out-of-state billionaires from New York City.”

 

2016 WATCH

Former Secretary of State Hillary ClintonHillary Diane Rodham ClintonGrassley blasts Democrats over unwillingness to probe Clinton GOP lawmakers cite new allegations of political bias in FBI Top intel Dem: Trump Jr. refused to answer questions about Trump Tower discussions with father MORE leads former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush (R) by 53 percent to 41 percent in a new national poll from The Washington Post and ABC News.

New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie (R) is heading to Iowa to fundraise for Gov. Terry Branstad (R).

The pro-Hillary Clinton group Correct the Record touted the former secretary of State’s efforts to raise the minimum wage throughout her career in a new research document, which came as the Senate considered — and ultimately defeated — a White House proposal to raise the rate to $10.10 per hour.

 

QUOTE OF THE DAY:

“Our dad is Jack Kingston. He really is cheap.” — Betsy Kingston on her dad in his latest Senate ad