Primary season is upon the House, and the not-so-graceful losses in Congress could begin as early as next month.
Starting then, a handful of incumbents will face tough intraparty races, thanks to a variety of reasons: the ongoing GOP civil war, dated and unsuspecting political operations, self-funding challengers and old political grudges coming back to haunt them.
The next 12 weeks will prove prophetic for voter appetite to return incumbents to Congress. Last cycle, five House members lost races to non-member challengers from their own parties (eight more lost in member-vs.-member primaries — a result of redistricting).
In most of the five cases, the incumbents lost with little notice or preparation. Primaries are often low-turnout and off-the-radar affairs, and an incumbent who seems safe now could be packing up his or her office in November.
What’s more, California’s jungle primary system continues to prove problematic for incumbents. One of this cycle’s most vulnerable House members, Rep. Michael M. Honda, D-Calif., will almost surely graduate from his June 3 primary to face a well-funded Democratic challenger, attorney Ro Khanna, in November.
But in the closer future, here are five House members who could lose their primaries in the next three months, in order of their upcoming elections:Incumbent: Rep. Walter B. Jones, R-N.C.
Primary: May 6
Challenger: Former Bush administration aide Taylor Griffin
This race pits Jones, a well-known but quirky figure in his district, against a former political consultant, Griffin, who boasts a network of savvy operative allies.
Some national Republicans are tired of Jones bucking the system and are rallying behind Griffin, his top opponent. And at least two well-funded conservative groups are working to make Jones the first incumbent to lose re-election this cycle. Ending Spending Action Fund has already spent more than $150,000 on ads attacking Jones’ “liberal” voting record — a significant buy in this district.
An eastern North Carolina native, Griffin served as crisis manager consultant for Sen. John McCain’s presidential campaign before moving back to the Tar Heel State to challenge Jones. But while Griffin has strong connections in Washington, D.C., he is virtually unknown in this coastal district. That’s a problem for him in his quickly-approaching primary.
Race Rating: North Carolina’s 3rd District is rated a Safe Republican contest by Rothenberg Political Report/Roll Call.Incumbent: Rep. Hank Johnson, D-Ga.
Primary: May 20
Challenger: Former DeKalb County Sheriff Tom Brown
Johnson faces his toughest primary yet in this district, anchored in the suburbs around Atlanta. The Georgia Democrat — known for making a few eyebrow-raising remarks in Congress — faces the well-liked Brown, who earned praise for cleaning up his law enforcement office in the wake of a deadly scandal.