Author Topic: 2020 purge? Long-serving incumbents getting ousted in contested House primaries  (Read 106 times)

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Offline Ptarmigan

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2020 purge? Long-serving incumbents getting ousted in contested House primaries

Members of Congress usually have the upper hand when they run for re-election. But this past week, two more House incumbents were ousted in contested primaries.

That brings to seven the number of sitting House members who’ve been defeated by primary challengers in the 2020 election cycle. While that’s not a record, the list includes some longtime veterans of Capitol Hill.

The four Republicans and three Democrats defeated in the primaries lost for different reasons. But there is some commonality.

“Usually someone takes their eye off the ball, loses touch with their constituents or becomes seen as a denizen or creature of D.C. ... You can become really vulnerable really fast in a primary election,” said Republican strategist Colin Reed, a veteran of multiple Senate and House campaigns.

Some of the Republican lost to more conservative Republicans.

Rep. Steve Watkins, R-Kan.

As Clay was going down to defeat in Missouri, the first-term Watkins was ousted in Kansas.

Weeks before Tuesday’s primary, Watkins was charged with three counts of voter fraud for using the address of a UPS store rather than his home when registering to vote. The incumbent told voters he had made a simple mistake and argued that the charges were a political attack.

But Republican primary voters evidently disagreed, favoring GOP challenger Jake LaTurner, the state treasurer.

Rep. Scott R. Tipton, R-Colo.

Tipton – who has represented his rural Colorado district for nearly a decade – was endorsed by President Trump. That’s usually enough for a GOP incumbent to ward off a primary challenger.

But Tipton’s challenger was ultra-conservative Lauren Boebert, a vocal gun rights activist who kept touting that she was keeping the doors open during the coronavirus pandemic to Shooters Grill, her weapons-themed restaurant.

Rep. Denver Riggleman, R-Va.

Like Tipton, the first-term Riggleman – who represents a rural district – had the backing of the president. But he was defeated by social conservative challenger Bob Good at the party convention.

An apparent major reason for Riggleman’s ouster: Last year, he officiated the same-sex wedding of two campaign volunteers.
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