“I’ve lived a lifetime of service, on battlefields, defending freedom,” said Watkins, a graduate of the U.S. Military Academy who led Army patrols in Afghanistan. “My opponent, he’s all about self-service.”
LaTurner’s closing commercials framed the race around the charges, pitching him as a Republican who could “turn the page” for voters who were “sick of the scandals.”
Watkins had called the alleged violations an innocent mistake and said he looked forward to “setting the record straight.”
“This is clearly hyper-political,” he said during a televised debate that began shortly after news broke about the charges on July 14. “I haven’t done anything wrong.”
LaTurner will face Democrat Michelle De La Isla, the mayor of Topeka, in a seat that Watkins nearly lost in 2018 but which strongly backed the president in 2016.
Watkins is the sixth House incumbent to lose. The others defeated by their party’s voters were Reps. Steve King (R-Iowa), Daniel Lipinski (D-Ill.), Scott R. Tipton (R-Colo.), Eliot L. Engel (D-N.Y.) and Denver Riggleman (R-Va.).