Chris Cillizza
Reporter March 9, 2012

Rep. Jean Schmidt never saw it coming.

The day before she lost her Republican primary race in Ohio on Tuesday, Schmidt was in Washington attending a meeting of the House Republican Conference and casting votes on the chamber floor.

Chris Cillizza writes “The Fix,” a politics blog for the Washington Post. He also covers the White House. View Archive

Less than 24 hours later, she fell to political newbie Brad Wenstrup. Without running a single television ad, Wenstrup beat the incumbent 49 percent to 43 percent.

Schmidt had been flirting with political disaster almost since the moment she won a 2005 special election to replace Rob Portman, who left the Cincinnati area seat to become the U.S. trade representative in the George W. Bush administration.

Soon after arriving in Congress, Schmidt made national news (and not in a good way) when she told Rep. John P. Murtha (D-Pa.), the first Vietnam War veteran elected to Congress, that “cowards cut and run, Marines never do.” Schmidt apologized quickly, but she never shook off that first big mistake.

In 2006, she nearly lost the Republican primary to former congressman Bob McEwen and then eked out a one-point victory in the general election despite her district’s GOP tilt.

Schmidt seemed to settle into Congress’s back benchover the next few years. Until President Obama’s State of the Union address in January, that is, when she was caught on camera giving the president a peck on the cheek. Wenstrup used the moment in radio ads to illustrate his argument that Schmidt was insufficiently conservative.

Jean Schmidt, for kissing your seat goodbye, you had the worst week in Washington. Congrats, or something.

Have a candidate for the Worst Week in Washington? E-mail Chris Cillizza at chris.cillizza@wpost.com.

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