645X363 - No Companion - Full Sharing - Additional videos are suggested - Policy/Regulation/Blogs

A third House incumbent could go down in a GOP primary Tuesday night, though it appears a trio of other Tea Party-backed members will fend off their own challengers. 

Rep. Kerry BentivolioKerry BentivolioIndiana Republican: Leaders duped me Reindeer farmer saves 'cromnibus' with yes vote High drama as .1T spending package advances by one vote MORE (R-Mich.) has failed to mount a serious campaign after happening into a seat two years ago. If he loses, as expected, to establishment-backed challenger Dave Trott, he would become the third congressman to lose a primary this year, following upsets against former House Majority Leader Eric Cantor (R-Va.) and Rep. Ralph Hall (R-Texas), the House’s oldest member.


While Bentivolio looks like a goner, three other conservative incumbents, Reps. Justin AmashJustin AmashBiden: 'Prince Philip gladly dedicated himself to the people of the UK' Battle rages over vaccine passports Republicans eye primaries in impeachment vote MORE (R-Mich.), Mike Pompeo (R-Kan.) and Tim Huelskamp (R-Kan.), are all expected to hold off their challengers. 

Voters in Michigan and Washington will also nominate candidates to replace a trio of retiring House committee heads — Ways and Means Committee Chairman Dave Camp (R-Mich.), Intelligence Committee Chairman Mike Rogers (R-Mich.) and Natural Resources Committee Chairman Doc Hastings (R-Wash.) — along with Rep. Gary Peters (D-Mich.), who’s running for the Senate.

Here’s the rundown of Tuesday’s House primaries: 


Bentivolio has long been on borrowed time in Washington. The freshman won his seat in 2012 after then-Rep. Thad McCotter (R-Mich.) failed to submit enough valid voter signatures to run and was forced into early retirement. 

A reindeer farmer and former Santa Claus impersonator, Bentivolio was the only Republican left on the ballot and beat back a last-ditch primary write-in campaign, but he has been a top target of local and national business groups ever since. He’s also failed to raise any money and has seen successive campaign managers abandon him after allegedly not getting paid.

Trott, a self-funding businessman, has the backing of the Chamber of Commerce and several Michigan state lawmakers. If he wins, he’ll be the heavy favorite in this Republican-leaning district for November. 

But the Chamber looks likely to fall short against Amash, another target and frequent thorn in their side. Despite infuriating local and national business groups, Amash looks set to cruise to renomination against Republican Brian Ellis. 

The libertarian-leaning Amash has led his opponent by about 20 points in a number of public polls after outspending Ellis in the race, aided by buys from the Club for Growth and Americans for Prosperity. 

Ellis got the national Chamber’s backing late, and they didn’t spend in the race, but Michigan’s Chamber did invest heavily on Ellis’s behalf.

Rep. John Conyers Jr. (D-Mich.) is expected to beat back his primary challenger after an early election scare when local officials questioned if he’d submitted enough valid signatures to appear on the ballot. After the courts decided he did indeed qualify, he now had little to worry about.


Rep. Mike Pompeo (R-Kan.) is favored to survive a spirited primary challenge from former Rep. Todd Tiahrt (R-Kan.), though tightening polls and expected low turnout make the outcome of the contest difficult to predict.

The incumbent advantage, if Pompeo pulls it out, is all the more striking here because the race didn't break down in traditional Tea Party vs. establishment lines.

Almost every aspect of Tiahrt’s bid is unusual: he’s challenging a candidate he endorsed twice before; has drawn the opposition of a number of conservative groups, like the Club for Growth, that previously gave him top marks on their scorecards; and is running to the left of the incumbent on many issues.

A poll conducted by SurveyUSA for KSN-TV late last month showed Tiahrt down just 7 percentage points and gaining significant ground on Pompeo, but it’s unclear whether that survey was an outlier or showed movement in the race. 

Even if Tiahrt did gain some ground, it’s hard to see how he’d close hard on Pompeo — he had just $65,000 cash on hand as of July 16, to Pompeo’s $1.6 million.

Rep. Tim Huelskamp (R-Kan.) is also likely to survive despite some late attacks from the Now or Never super-PAC.

There’s little indication his opponent, farmer Alan LaPolice (R), has gained much ground running to Huelskamp’s left and hitting him on his opposition to the farm bill.

Now or Never PAC spent about $100,000 on ads attacking Huelskamp and released a single-day survey at the end of July showed LaPolice gaining ground but still down 21 percentage points. While the group argued it showed LaPolice surging, that’s a difficult gap to close in just a few weeks, with little money or organization. 


Vacant seats in both Michigan and Washington have drawn several challengers, and whoever wins the nomination in these safe seats is likely headed to Congress. 

Former Rep. Hansen Clarke (D-Mich.), who lost two years ago to Peters in a redistricting-forced battle, saw another opportunity with Peters running for Senate. 

Nonetheless, Clarke appears to be the underdog, despite his high name recognition in the Detroit-based district. The former congressman has struggled with fundraising and has seen more lawmaker endorsements go to state Rep. Rudy Hobbs (D) and former Southfield Mayor Brenda Lawrence (D), who has the backing of EMILY’s List. The winner of the three-way primary is a lock in the general election in the heavily Democratic district.

Congress's longest serving member, Rep. John Dingell (D-Mich.), is retiring, but his wife Debbie Dingell is the odds-on favorite to win the Democratic primary to replace him and take his seat this fall. 

The battle for Rogers’s seat is the latest fight between establishment and Tea Party Republicans. Former Michigan state House Majority Leader Mike Bishop (R) is duking it out with Michigan state Rep. Tom McMillin (R), a close ally of Amash’s. Bishop appears to have the edge, having raised much more money and led in one public poll by a double-digit margin. If he wins the primary he will be favored in the GOP-leaning district this fall. Democrats failed to land their preferred recruits in the district, but if McMillin wins they might compete there in the general election.

In the race to replace Camp, former Michigan Republican Party Finance Chairman Paul Mitchell (R) seems to have the advantage over state Rep. Joe Moolenaar (R), despite Camp’s endorsement of Moolenaar. Mitchell has led in recent polls after blasting Moolenaar for backing a state-level tax increase and will be favored in a heavily Republican district.

There’s a crowded all-party primary for Hastings’s solidly Republican eastern Washington district. Former Washington Agriculture Director Dan Newhouse (R) and former Washington Redskins tight end Clint Didier (R) seem the most likely to advance to the general election, though one of the two Democrats in the race could advance as well — and two other Republicans have small political bases as well in the hard-to-predict race.

— Alexandra Jaffe contributed.

— This post was updated at 9:31 a.m.