"Everything's in play, and nothing can be taken for granted," said Richard Gose, vice president of political affairs for the Credit Union National Association, which bought up to $27,000 in pro-Bachus radio ads over the weekend. Gose said the group hadn't decided to buy ads until the Ohio primary results came in, providing "a wake-up call for a lot of folks.''
The same super PAC that spent money against Schmidt--the Campaign for Primary Accountability, which is devoted to unseating incumbents of both parties--has invested about $200,000 in defeating Bachus. Its spokesman, Curtis Ellis, referred to the incumbent as the "Bachanalius of sleaze."
The Bachus race is one of a handful of competitive primaries on Tuesday in Alabama and Mississippi. In both states, runoffs will be triggered if a candidate does not win 50 percent of the vote. Alabama will hold runoffs on April 24; Mississippi's are scheduled for April 3.
In all the contests, incumbents are favored. But the results will provide fresh evidence of how the widespread dislike and mistrust of Congress may filter down into individual reelection bids.
Democrats, who gleefully watched from the sidelines as Schmidt stumbled last week, are hoping for more turmoil in the GOP races.
"It fortifies my belief that Republicans have an inherently unstable terrain," said Rep. Steve Israel, D-N.Y., who leads the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee. "Arguably, you cannot get to the right of Jean Schmidt, and yet she got challenged from the right and lost. So it tells me that they've got a huge structural problem with their base."
Three GOP House freshmen face primary challengers on Tuesday.
Freshman Rep. Mo Brooks, R-Ala., faces a rematch against Parker Griffith, the former congressman who represented the district for a single term before Brooks defeated him, 51 percent to 33 percent, in the 2010 primary.
Brooks isn't the only freshman facing a 2010 flashback. In Mississippi's heavily Republican 1st District, GOP Rep. Alan Nunnelee is running against Henry Ross in a rematch of the 2010 primary he won, 52 percent to 33 percent.
Mississippi's other freshman Republican, Rep. Steven Palazzo, faces a primary in the 4th District against Ron Vincent and Cindy Burleson, who are not expected to pose a serious threat.
Tuesday will also mark the first test of any unrest on the Democratic side of the aisle. Rep. Bennie Thompson, D-Miss., faces a primary challenge to keep a seat he has held comfortably since 1993. Former Greenville Mayor Heather McTeer is challenging Thompson, who had $1.6 million cash on hand as of Feb. 22. She largely self-funded her effort with a $140,000 personal loan.