11 members of Congress have lost their primaries this year. Is Liz Cheney next?

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Cheney not only holds the distinction of being one of the 10 House Republicans who voted to impeach Donald Trump last year. As the vice chair of the House select committee investigating January 6, she has also consistently been the GOP’s most outspoken critic of the former President, costing Cheney her party leadership position.

To put it mildly, that’s left her in a less than ideal position politically, running against a primary challenger backed by Trump in a state where he won 70% of the vote in the 2020 election.

If Cheney is defeated Tuesday, she would join 11 other members of Congress who lost their primaries in the 2022 cycle due to a variety of factors. Here is how that group breaks down:

Like Cheney, nearly every House Republican who supported Trump’s second impeachment and ran for reelection this year faced a Trump-backed challenger.

Three lost their primaries: Rep. Jaime Herrera Beutler of Washington failed to advance out of her top-two primary, with Republican Joe Kent taking a spot on the general election ballot alongside a Democrat. Rep. Peter Meijer of Michigan lost to John Gibbs and Rep. Tom Rice of South Carolina lost to Russell Fry.

Incumbent v. incumbent races

The decennial redistricting cycle also contributed to an uptick in primary losses, as some members of Congress were drawn into a new district with a fellow incumbent of the same party.

That resulted in three defeats for House Democrats. In Michigan, Rep. Andy Levin lost to Rep. Haley Stevens. In Illinois, Rep. Marie Newman lost to Rep. Sean Casten. And in Georgia, Rep. Carolyn Bourdeaux lost to Rep. Lucy McBath.

The former President also exerted his influence in two races where Republican incumbents were pitted against each other. In Illinois, Rep. Rodney Davis lost to the Trump-backed Rep. Mary Miller, and in West Virginia, Rep. David McKinley lost to the Trump-backed Rep. Alex Mooney.

Outflanked by the left

Rep. Kurt Schrader of Oregon holds the distinction of being the only congressional Democrat who lost renomination to a non-incumbent so far this cycle.

Even though he had often crossed party leadership, Schrader was backed by President Joe Biden and the House Democrats’ campaign arm. But he ultimately lost the primary in his newly redrawn district to progressive challenger Jamie McLeod-Skinner.

Mired in controversy

The final two members of the group lost their primaries after dealing with a series of ethical issues.

GOP Rep. Steven Palazzo of Mississippi advanced to a runoff primary, but ended up losing to fellow Republican Mike Ezell. Palazzo faced allegations of misuse of campaign and congressional funds (he denied any wrongdoing) as well as criticism over his use of proxy voting.

And North Carolina Rep. Madison Cawthorn, who was embroiled in controversy after controversy during his short tenure in Washington, lost his Republican primary to Chuck Edwards.

Even after Tuesday’s primary in Wyoming, several other members of Congress are at risk of losing their primaries. In New York, Democratic Reps. Jerry Nadler and Carolyn Maloney are facing off against one another as a result of redistricting on August 23. That same day, New York Democratic Rep. Mondaire Jones is also running in a brand new district.

The number of incumbents who have been defeated in primaries in 2022 is roughly on pace with comparable cycles after new congressional lines were drawn. According to data from the Brookings Institution, 13 members of Congress lost primaries in 2012, 8 lost in 2002 and 19 lost in 1992.

The Point: The first election year after a redistricting cycle tends to see a higher number of incumbents lose primaries. Trump’s vengeance tour has added some extra fuel, ensuring the makeup of the next Congress will be quite different than the current one.

August 16, 2022 at 04:45AM

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