House races

‘Accidental congressman’ loses primary

Rep. Kerry Bentivolio (R-Mich.) has lost his primary to businessman Dave Trott (R), making him the third House incumbent to fall this election cycle.

The Associated Press has called the race for Trott, who spent more than $2 million of his own money on the primary. He led Bentivolio by 66 percent to 34 percent with 60 percent of precincts reporting. 

Bentivolio, a Tea Party activist and former reindeer farmer and Santa impersonator, was dubbed the “accidental congressman” in 2012. He was a major underdog until then-Rep. Thad McCotter (R-Mich.) failed to qualify for the ballot. Establishment Republicans fell short in a write-in campaign against him, and Democrats failed to knock him off in the Republican-leaning district.

The freshman was an early target of local business Republicans — the Chamber of Commerce and its local affiliates endorsed Trott, as did 2012 presidential nominee Mitt Romney and a number of local Republican officials.

Bentivolio never mounted much of a challenge — he refused to fundraise effectively, didn’t lock in big endorsements from conservative outside groups and lost his campaign manager late this spring, while Trott coalesced most of the establishment behind him.

He’s the third House Republican to fall in a primary this cycle, following former House Majority Leader Eric Cantor’s (R-Va.) stunning upset and Rep. Ralph Hall’s (R-Texas) fall.

Trott starts off as the favorite in his GOP-leaning district heading into the fall, though Democrats are high on former CIA analyst Bobby McKenzie (D), who won his primary.

— This post was updated at 11:45 p.m.

Tags Kerry Bentivolio
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