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Primary day lesson: TARP, cap-and-trade still Republican poison

Now that the votes are mostly counted in the 12 states that held elections on Tuesday, we can look back at some of the under-the-radar trends and candidates. Here's a big one -- a vote for TARP is still anathema to many GOP primary voters. We knew this when Sen. Bob Bennett (R-Utah) went down in Utah, but we got more proof that Republicans who cast votes in favor of TARP in 2008 have yet to live it down.

South Carolina: Rep. Bob Inglis (R-S.C.) trailed a conservative rival who is expected to oust him in the runoff, as TARP-supporting Rep. Gresham Barrett (R-S.C.) trails Nikki Haley in the governor's race.

California: Ten Republicans in this state voted for TARP, and all but one ran again this year. Rep. Mary Bono Mack scored only 69.2% of the vote against a tea party challenger Clayton Thibodeau, Rep. Ken Calvert (R-Ca.) was held to 66.3% against tea partyer Chris Riggs. Rep. David Drier (R-Ca.) won 72.8% against tea partyer Mark Butler. Rep. Wally Herger scored 64.2% against tea partyer Pete Stiglich. Rep. Jerry Lewis won 65.8% against tea partyer Eric Stone. And Rep. Gary Miller (R-Ca.) won only 48.9% of the vote against three tea party challengers. Of the Republicans who backed TARP, only Rep. Dan Lungren (R-Ca.), Rep. Buck McKeon (R-Ca.), and Rep. John Campbell (R-Ca.) went unchallenged.

New Jersey: Rep. Rodney Freylinghuysen (R-N.J.), who backed TARP, survived a tea party challenge with 76.4% of the vote. But two of his colleagues who merely voted for cap-and-trade legislation faced stiff challenges. Rep. Chris Smith (R-N.J.) won his primary with 68.8%, while freshman Rep. Leonard Lance (R-N.J.) won only 56.1%.

Republicans who backed TARP mostly avoided challenges in Virginia and other states, but you're looking at an average of around 40% opposition in primaries against these incumbents.

By David Weigel  |  June 11, 2010; 2:32 PM ET
Categories:  2010 Election  
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