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House incumbents face another test in Tuesday’s primary

at 02:33 PM ET, 03/12/2012

Is 2012 another anti-incumbent year?

We should get a good indication Tuesday, when a couple more House incumbents face primaries funded by the Campaign for Primary Accountability, the group that helped unseat Rep. Jean Schmidt (R-Ohio) in last week’s primary.

Here are five House incumbents facing some real primaries tomorrow. All are favorites, but as was the case in Ohio, anything can happen.

1. Rep. Spencer Bachus (R-Ala.): This is the big one. The Campaign for Primary Accountability has spent more than $200,000 on the race – it’s biggest investment to date – and Bachus,chairman of the House Financial Services Committee, is fending off an insider-trading investigation that The Washington Post first reported a month ago.

Bachus has been raising money at a feverish pace in recent weeks and is on the air with an ad defending himself, both of which are signs that he’s taking this seriously. His top opponent is state Sen. Scott Beason, a key player in drafting the state’s restrictive new immigration law. Beason has raised less than $75,000 but is benefiting greatly from the CPA’s efforts here. With others on the ballot, this might be more about whether the primary goes to a runoff. Bachus needs to win 50 percent of the vote to avoid an April 24 runoff.
House Financial Services Committee chairman Spencer Bachus (R-Ala.) speaks during the Reuters Washington Summit in this September 2010 photo. (Gary Cameron/Reuters)

2. Rep. Jo Bonner (R-Ala.): Bonner also has the unfortunate distinction of having grabbed the attention of CPA, which has spent $121,000 against him. The House ethics committee chairman faces a few opponents, the best-funded among them being businessman Dean Young, who has loaned his campaign $190,000 to date. Bonner’s financial advantage here is basically gone, as he plugged a whopping $643,000 into the primary by late February. This could be another situation where we’re waiting to see whether there’s a runoff.

3. Rep. Alan Nunnelee (R-Miss.): The freshman has escaped the CPA, but his opponent, former Eupora mayor Henry Ross, is up with about $40,000 worth of TV ads. Nunnelee has run more than $100,000 worth of ads. Nunnelee beat Ross pretty handily in 2010 – 52 percent to 33 percent – so unless something has really changed, he will be favored to win reelection and also avoid a runoff.

4. Rep. Bennie Thompson (D-Miss.): Thompson faces an established opponent in Greenville Mayor Heather McTeer. But Thompson has a huge campaign fund – to the tune of $1.6 million – and that will be very tough for McTeer to overcome. McTeer has largely subsisted on a $140,000 personal loan to her campaign. Thompson is the first of many members of the Congressional Black Caucus facing primary opposition this year; the next one is Rep. Jesse Jackson Jr. (D-Ill.) in Illinois next week.

5. Rep. Steven Palazzo (R-Miss.): This freshman faces tea partier Ron Vincent and Cindy Burleson, but he’s got a huge financial advantage. Vincent has self-funded $25,000 for the race, while Burleson hasn’t filed with the Federal Election Commission. Palazzo, meanwhile, had more than $300,000 on hand as of late February. At the same time, Palazzo’s early tenure in Washington hasn’t exactly gone smoothly.

 
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