In the first upset of 2012, Rep. Jean Schmidt (R-Ohio) lost a primary to Army Reserves Major Brad Wenstrup, a political newbie.
With 100 percent of precincts reporting, Wenstrup won 49 percent to 43 percent.
Schmidt has represented Ohio’s Cincinnatti-area 2nd district since 2005, when she won a special election against Democratic Iraq War veteran Paul Hackett. She faced a tough primary in 2006 from former Rep. Bob McEwan but has not had a serious challenge from within her party since.
“I’m honored that the voters heard our message of change,” Wenstrup said in a statement. “Change that includes strong, ethical leadership. Change that also includes reforming government, cutting spending and unleashing small business owners so they can create jobs.”
He challenged Schmidt from the right, targeting her votes for raising the debt ceiling.
Wenstrup had help from the Campaign for Primary Accountability, a new Texas-based super PAC targeting incumbents on both sides of the aisle. The group also backed Rep. Dennis Kucinich (D) against Rep. Marcy Kaptur (D) in Ohio’s 9th district.
“Voters were the victors,” said PAC co-chairmen Leo Linbeck III and Eric O’Keefe in a statement. “In the 2nd and 9th Districts of Ohio, the Campaign for Primary Accountability achieved its goal of greater participation and competition in Congressional primaries.”
Wenstrup’s first political campaign was in 2009, when he unsuccessfully challenged Cincinnati Mayor Mark Mallory. The Democratic mayor liked his rival enough to appoint him to the city’s Board of Health.
Former Rep. Mary Jo Kilroy also lost her primary to former Ohio House minority leader Joyce Beatty in the Democratic primary for Ohio’s new 3rd district.