In a stunning upset, Rep. Jean Schmidt, R-Ohio, lost the 2nd District Republican primary to veteran Brad Wenstrup Tuesday night, falling short in her reelection bid eight months before Election Day. The Cincinnati Enquirer reported that Schmidt phoned Wenstrup to concede.
With 99 percent of precincts reporting, Wenstrup led Schmidt 49 percent to 43 percent.
Schmidt's defeat marks the first tea party upset of 2012, proving the movement still has legs after 2010. It also marks the first House success of the super PAC era. The Campaign for Primary Accountability, a super PAC targeting incumbents in safe districts, spent nearly $50,000 hitting Schmidt on the radio and via mail during the first week of March.
Schmidt had outspent Wenstrup more than three-to-one by the Federal Election Commission's pre-primary reporting deadline last month, but Schmidt has never run well in GOP primaries. The third-term member of Congress won her first primary, in a 2005 special election, with just 31 percent of the vote, and she won her nomination for a first full term with less than half of the GOP vote again. In 2008, she only won with 45 percent of the vote in the general election, with a third-party candidate tallying 18 percent. Schmidt's 62 percent showing in the 2010 Republican primary was her best yet.
Wenstrup, who narrowly lost the mayoral race in Cincinnati in 2009, becomes the favorite in the Republican-heavy 2nd District, which gave Sen. John McCain over 54% of its presidential vote in 2008. He will face the winner of the Democratic race between David Krikorian, and William Smith.