House races

Ohio Rep. Schmidt becomes first member ousted in 2012 primary

Rep. Jean Schmidt (R-Ohio) became the first member of Congress to be defeated in a primary in 2012, losing her race on Tuesday to physician Brad Wenstrup.

With 99 percent of precincts reporting, Wenstrup took 49 percent of the vote to Schmidt’s 43 percent. Two other Republicans who challenged Schmidt placed in the single digits.

{mosads}Schmidt has faced tough challenges before, and won her 2008 reelection with less than 45 percent of the vote. She came to the House in 2005 in a special election where she held off a challenge from former Rep. Bob McEwen (R-Ohio).

Schmidt’s weak performance during her first few terms in the House attracted critics on both sides. She drew the ire of the left in 2007 when she denounced former Rep. John Murtha (D-Pa.) for calling for troop withdrawal and said that “cowards cut and run, Marines never do.”

She faced an ethics inquiry over allegations she improperly accepted free legal services, but was later cleared. Wenstrup made that and other ethics questions central to his campaign against Schmidt, whom he challenged from the right.

The Campaign for Primary Accountability, a group that challenges incumbents from both parties, also ran radio ads attacking her.

An avid marathon competitor, Schmidt served in the Ohio state House before running for Congress. She serves on the House Agriculture Committee and House Committee on Transportation and Infrastructure.

In the Democratic primary for Schmidt’s district, fewer than 150 votes separated William Smith and David Krikorian, setting the stage for a possible recount. But the district is safe for Republicans, and Wenstrup is expected to have little trouble winning in the general election.

Wenstrup served as a combat surgeon in Iraq, winning a Bronze Star for his service. He has no experience as an elected official but ran unsuccessfully for mayor of Cincinnati in 2009.

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