(CNN) - Voters in North Carolina, Indiana and Ohio on Tuesday kick off five straight weeks of primary contests that could give us a clearer indication of whether establishment Republicans have the upper hand against the tea party movement for control of the party.
The results could back up recent tough talk from Senate GOP leader Mitch McConnell, who predicted big wins for incumbents facing primary challenges from the right, saying, "I think we are going to crush them everywhere."
Asheville, North Carolina (CNN) - On the eve of North Carolina primary balloting, the state tea party is not backing down, despite reports the Republican establishment is fighting to "humiliate" and win big.
"The establishment – they want to keep their turf and they look at us as a threat," Jane Bilello, chairman of the Asheville Tea Party, told CNN on Monday.
(CNN) – Second place won't cut it this time.
North Carolina voters head to the polls Tuesday for the state's primary. And that means it's show time for Clay Aiken, the 2003 "American Idol" runner-up-turned Democratic congressional candidate.
Raleigh, North Carolina (CNN) - For a Republican establishment still spooked by the ghosts of Todd Akin and Richard Mourdock - grassroots-backed conservatives who threw away winnable Senate races in recent elections with tone-deaf remarks about abortion - Tuesday can't come soon enough.
In North Carolina, Republicans are watching closely to see if Thom Tillis, the state House speaker and maybe the party's best bet to unseat endangered Democratic Sen. Kay Hagan this November, can capture 40% of the vote in Tuesday's GOP Senate primary.
Washington (CNN) - The U.S. Chamber of Commerce says it's launching six new television commercials this week in five states.
The ad buy, which the pro-business organization describes as "massive," is the latest volley by the group, which is one of the biggest spenders among the outside groups so far this midterm election cycle
Buxton, North Carolina (CNN) - The wind is whipping up as Taylor Griffin stands on a tiny sliver of sand on Cape Hatteras on a recent afternoon, listening to a family whose entire livelihood might soon tumble into the sea. The Atlantic Ocean is just a few feet away, and high tide is coming in. These are the waves that have been steadily eroding one of the country's most storied beaches for a generation, threatening a pencil-thin stretch of barrier islands, the Outer Banks, that produce hundreds of millions of dollars in yearly tourism revenue for the state.
Carol Dawson and her son, Jeff, own several businesses here, including the Cape Hatteras Motel, an oceanfront structure propped up by wooden beams and, these days, piles of sandbags. The Dawsons complain that the federal government - mainly, the National Park Service and their congressman, Rep. Walter Jones - have abandoned them. Their beaches haven't been nourished in decades, crucial access roads have been breached by hurricanes, and endangered sea turtles are offered more protections than the 4,000 or so full-time residents of Hatteras Island.
(CNN) - New polls in four southern states that could determine whether the Democrats keep control of the Senate in this November's midterm elections indicate close contests.
And according to the New York Times Upshot/Kaiser Family Foundation surveys, released Wednesday, President Barack Obama's approval ratings are in the low 30's in two of those states and hovering at or just above the 40% mark in the other two states. Republicans are trying to frame the midterm contests as a referendum on the President and on his federal health care law, better known as Obamacare.
*updated at 1:00pm
Washington (CNN) - They are two of the hottest battlegrounds in the 2014 fight for control of the U.S. Senate.
And Wednesday a leading pro-Democratic group said it's going up with TV commercials in North Carolina and Arkansas that target Republicans challenging incumbent Democratic Sens. Kay Hagan and Mark Pryor, who face tough re-elections this year.
Updated 3:14 p.m. ET, 2/5/2014
(CNN) – He may be best known as an entertainer, but Clay Aiken says his personal story qualifies him for Congress.
"I do think that story qualifies me in the sense that I understand that we all go through issues, that we all go through struggles in life and they make us who we are and we learn from them, and for that reason I think empathy and caring for the people you represent is a really important qualification for Congress," Aiken said Wednesday in an interview on CNN's "Newsroom."
Updated 1:32 p.m. ET, 1/15/2014
(CNN) - In what may be a sign to come for the midterm elections, Democratic Sen. Kay Hagan of North Carolina, who faces a tough re-election battle this year, stayed far away from President Barack Obama's visit to her home state on Wednesday.
And Republicans didn't let the snub go unnoticed.