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Why did Rep. Bob Inglis lose by 42 points?

On paper, the massive, 42-point defeat of Rep. Bob Inglis (R-S.C.) is tough to explain. Sure, he voted for TARP, and all Republicans who did so are experiencing some blowback in their primaries -- but how does an incumbent lose by such a swollen margin without some sort of horrible scandal? According to the Greenville News, he blamed it on his lack of partisan anger.

Inglis said he wasn't surprised by the outcome because of his controversial congressional votes to reprimand U.S. Rep. Joe Wilson of South Carolina for his “you lie!” outburst at President Obama and to oppose former President Bush's 2007 troop surge in Iraq.
He split with some conventional Republican beliefs and “the result was I haven't been a very good match with the partisans,” Inglis said.
Using an analogy to U.S. troops serving overseas, Inglis said, “If you’re in the Congress and not willing to fall on a political hill, then it’s not worth being in Congress.”

Actually, the last time most national observers heard of Inglis, he was chastising attendees of a town hall meeting for watching Glenn Beck.

They suggest that you watch Glenn Beck. Here’s my suggestion. Turn that television off when he comes on. Let me tell you why. You want to know why? He’s trading on fear. You know what? Here’s what I think. If you trade on fear, what you’re doing is, you’re not leading. You’re just following fearful people. So if you want to lead, stop being fearful.

Inglis's explanation for his defeat is self-serving, but he's also right -- Republican voters have no interest in rewarding bipartisanship that involves shaming other conservatives.

By David Weigel  |  June 23, 2010; 2:27 PM ET
Categories:  2010 Election  
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