Congressional Primaries End With Most House Defeats Since 1992

Photograph by Daniel Acker/Bloomberg

Representative Dennis Kucinich, a Democrat from Ohio, greets delegates at the Democratic National Convention (DNC) in Charlotte.

Thirteen members of the U.S. House have been defeated for re-election in primaries before the Nov. 6 general election, the most in two decades.

It’s not a harbinger of an anti-incumbent vote in eight weeks, even as public approval of Congress hovers near an all-time low. Eight of the 13 lost to other House members after changes made in post-Census redistricting.

Those eight were Dennis Kucinich of Ohio, Donald Manzullo of Illinois, Jason Altmire of Pennsylvania, Steve Rothman of New Jersey, Russ Carnahan of Missouri, Hansen Clarke of Michigan, Sandy Adams of Florida and Ben Quayle of Arizona.

The five House members who lost to outside challengers were Jean Schmidt of Ohio, Tim Holden of Pennsylvania, Silvestre Reyes of Texas, John Sullivan of Oklahoma and Cliff Stearns of Florida.

Nineteen House members were unseated in the primaries in 1992, when election defeats rose for reasons related to redistricting and a House bank scandal involving members who overdrew their congressional checking accounts.

The 13 who lost this year exceeds the total of 12 House members who were denied renomination in the previous four elections combined.

This year’s tally doesn’t include Louisiana, which features a first-round matchup on Nov. 6 between Republican Reps. Charles Boustany and Jeff Landry, who are sharing a ballot with three lesser-known candidates. Louisiana is the only state to hold its primary on the national Election Day; if no candidate wins a majority of the vote in the all-candidate, single-ballot race, a runoff election between the top two vote-getters follows in December.

In California, which held a June primary similar in format to Louisiana’s system, House Democrats are pitted against one another in two districts on Nov. 6. In Iowa and Ohio, a House Democrat will run against a House Republican after redistricting.

Indiana Republican Richard Lugar was the only senator denied renomination this election cycle. He lost to state Treasurer Richard Mourdock.

The primaries yesterday in New Hampshire, Rhode Island and Delaware were the last before Nov. 6.

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