Another incumbent Democrat bites the dust as anti-Washington fever reaches West Virginia [Updated]
First, Robert F. Bennett was denied renomination to another Senate term by Utah Republicans, a reliably conservative Republican ousted by Republicans for not being conservative enough. Utah's other Republican senator, Orrin G. Hatch, a conservative who tries to bridge the partisan divide with Democrats on issues with shared interests, is up for reelection in 2012 and could be the next casualty of Tea Party anger.
[Updated at 9:28 a.m.: An earlier version of this post said Bennett lost his seat in the Republican primary. Bennett was denied renomination to another term in the Senate by a vote of delegates at the Utah Republican Party convention.]
Washington was still recovering from that shock when another blow hit. On Tuesday, Democrat Alan
Mollohan became the first congressman to be ousted this
primary season, after 28 years in the House. And it wasn't even close --
State Sen. Mike Oliverio ran hard against Mollohan's earmark-happy ethics -- and his support for healthcare overhaul and climate change legislation. West Virginia is rich in coal -- and in antiabortion voters.
In a district that gave Republican John McCain 57% of its vote in
2008, Oliverio has an uphill climb in the fall against Republican David McKinley,
who promises to make the race "a
referendum on the Obama administration and Nancy Pelosi’s liberal
Maybe, but the math is pretty telling.
Historically, midterm elections cost the party in power some seats and Democrats are girding for a 2010 loss of between 25 to 30 seats in the House. But Mollohan is a senior congressman, and as Fox News pointed out, one of the reasons Republicans won the House in 1994 is that "they not only vanquished weak members and lawmakers from marginal districts, but wiped out big fish, too." Georgia Republican Newt Gingrich and his "contract with America" knocked off House Speaker Tom Foley and Ways and Means Chairman Dan Rostenkowski.
Mollohan has been on the vulnerable list for awhile. The question now: Who's next?
-- Johanna Neuman
Photo: Republican U.S. Reps. Marsha Blackburn of Tennessee, Greg Walden of Oregon and Pete Sessions of Texas unveil a GOP ad on March 15 against President Obama's healthcare legislation targeting House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-San Francsico), Obama and Rep. Alan Mollohan (D-W.Va.). Credit: Jonathan Ernst/Getty Images North America)