Incumbent House Members Survive, But Primary Challenges Are Strong

Wednesday, 07 May 2014 11:59 AM

By John Gizzi

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While no incumbent House member was defeated in Republican primaries on Tuesday in Ohio and North Carolina, some of those who won renomination had to stave off stronger-than-anticipated challenges.

In North Carolina's Third Congressional District, Rep. Walter Jones defeated former George W. Bush administration official Taylor Griffin by an unimpressive margin of 52 percent to 44 percent.

Griffin benefited from anti-Jones independent expenditures from such groups as Ending Spending and the Emergency Committee for Israel, which slammed the incumbent for his opposition to foreign aid and his support from a group favoring a Palestinian state.

But Griffin also had several negatives, notably working in Washington as a consultant after leaving government and renting a studio apartment in the district last year when he decided to run for office.

"Had Rep. Jones faced an opponent with roots in the district, such as [Craven County Commission] Chairman Scott Dacey, the outcome might have been different," one longtime GOP consultant in North Carolina told Newsmax.

In Ohio, freshman Republican Rep. David Joyce survived a challenge from state Rep. Matt Lynch, who had the backing of the Tea Party Patriots, Freedom Works, and Ron Paul.

Lynch hit hard at Joyce's ties to former Ohio Rep. Steve LaTourette, a moderate Republican who has fought conservatives through his Defending Main Street super-PAC. Two years ago, when LaTourette suddenly announced his retirement in Ohio's 14th Congressional District, party chieftains gave the nomination to prosecutor Joyce.

On Tuesday, Joyce defeated Lynch by a margin of 56 percent to 44 percent.

In Ohio's Eighth District, to no one's surprise, Speaker John Boehner was renominated to the seat he has held for 24 years. But whereas Boehner won with 84 percent of the vote in the 2012 primary, on Tuesday he was held to a margin of 69 percent by three obscure opponents.

John Gizzi is chief political columnist and White House correspondent for Newsmax.

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