Reid Wilson at Hotline has been tracking the performance of Congressional incumbents who supported the TARP bailout, and delivers a good (but not infallible) metric for determining the mood of the electorate. The biggest loser so far has been Rep. Bob Inglis (R-SC), who got edged out in his primary runoff by Trey Gowdy — by 44 points. However, that’s not the only issue Inglis faced in his primary:
GOPers who supported George W. Bush‘s urgent request for money aimed at bailing out Wall Street have a troubled asset of their own: A vote for the TARP program has proven a sure political loser in a series of GOP primaries this year.
On Tuesday, Rep. Bob Inglis (R-SC) became the third GOPer to lose his bid for re-election, falling to Spartanburg CO. Solicitor Trey Gowdy (R) by a lopsided 72%-28% margin. Inglis, a 6-term incumbent from the Spartanburg-Greenville area, has voted against his party on several occasions, and a vote against the Iraq war surge in ’07 rankled his constituents. His vote for TARP legislation, though, may have killed his career.
Also Tuesday, Rep. Gresham Barrett (R), once the front-runner in the race to succeed SC Gov. Mark Sanford (R), finished way behind state Rep. Nikki Haley (R) in a runoff election. Haley beat Barrett, who voted for TARP, by a 65%-35% margin.
Inglis’ and Barrett’s losses come a month after Sen. Bob Bennett (R-UT) lost his chance at winning a fourth term when he finished third at his state’s GOP convention. Bennett was one of 34 GOP senators to vote in favor of TARP legislation in Oct. ’08 — a vote both his opponents used to campaign against him.
Well, it’s not a sure political loser, as Wilson himself admits at the end of his piece. Rep. John Boozman easily won his US Senate primary in Arkansas and leads Blanche Lincoln by more than 20 points in the general election. GOP leaders such as John Boehner and Eric Cantor didn’t get challenged on that position. The difference seems to be whether the incumbent acknowledges the error and promises to undo it, or attempts to defend the vote instead. Defending the vote is the sure political loser.
With Inglis, though, there is more going on than just the TARP vote. Inglis infamously scolded his audience for watching television for their information in an August 2009 townhall meeting, criticizing Glenn Beck and Fox News and telling them to stop acting in fear. It appears that Inglis’ constituents repaid his arrogance with a pink slip:
On the arrogance scale, of course, it pales in comparison to Baron Hill, the Indiana Democrat who attempted to live up to his name. However, the confrontation has dogged Inglis ever since and made him an example of haughty, out-of-touch political elites who want to impose their choices rather than allow Americans to make their own. In the end, that mattered to his constituents more than his 95% rating from the ACU.
Cook has this district rated R+15, which means that Gowdy should sail to election in November.