Republican congressmen have a rough night in primary elections

Key Points
  • House Republicans have a rough night in Tuesday's primaries in Indiana, West Virginia, North Carolina and Ohio.
  • Rep. Robert Pittenger becomes the first incumbent House Republican to lose a primary this year.
  • Reps. Todd Rokita and Luke Messer are projected to lose Indiana's GOP Senate primary, while Rep. Evan Jenkins is projected to lose West Virginia's Senate primary.
GOP congressmen have a rough night in primary elections
GOP congressmen have a rough night in primary elections

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell received great news in Tuesday's primary elections. Several House Republicans cannot say the same.

McConnell got his wish as ex-convict Don Blankenship fell well short of winning West Virginia's Republican Senate primary. President Donald Trump seemed to acknowledge the result in a tweet Wednesday morning, saying Republicans "had a great night" and nominated candidates "who have a great chance of winning in November."

Trump: The Republican Party had a great night. Tremendous voter energy and excitement, and all candidates are those who have a great chance of winning in November. The Economy is sooo strong, and with Nancy Pelosi wanting to end the big Tax Cuts and Raise Taxes, why wouldn't we win?

While Senate Republicans largely saw positive results on Tuesday, current GOP members of the House did not have the same luck. Multiple House Republicans either lost a primary election for their seat or easily lost their bid for another office.

Rep. Robert Pittenger, R-N.C., became the first House incumbent this year to lose a primary. He conceded Tuesday night to pastor Mark Harris in North Carolina's 9th District primary.

Harris will face Democrat Dan McCready, a well-funded Iraq veteran, in a race that could prove competitive. The North Carolina district is one Democrats hope to flip as they try to win 23 GOP-held seats and a House majority.

Rep. Luke Messer, R-Ind.
Bill Clark | CQ Roll Call | Getty Images

In Indiana, both Reps. Todd Rokita and Luke Messer ran in the GOP Senate primary and aimed to challenge vulnerable Democratic Sen. Joe Donnelly. Both fell well short of Mike Braun, the projected winner who has garnered more than 40 percent of the counted vote, compared with about 30 percent each for Rokita and Messer, according to NBC News.

The congressmen, longtime political rivals, beat each other up in a bitter and personal primary. Braun, a businessman and former state representative, used his own money to launch an ad blitz that in part cast both Rokita and Messer as creatures of a corrupt Washington.

Braun notably released an ad in which he carried around life-sized cutouts of Rokita and Messer, and asked people in the street to identify the congressmen. They struggled to do so.

In West Virginia's GOP Senate primary, state Attorney General Patrick Morrisey is projected to beat Rep. Evan Jenkins, according to NBC. With the vast majority of votes counted, Morrisey has a comfortable edge, with about 35 percent of support versus about 29 percent for Jenkins, NBC reported.

Rep. Evan Jenkins, R-W.Va., who is running for the Republican nomination for Senate in West Virginia, is interviewed after a tour of Warwood Tool Company in Wheeling, W.Va., on May 2, 2018.
Tom Williams | CQ Roll Call | Getty Images

Not all House Republicans had a bad night Tuesday. Rep. Jim Renacci is projected to win Ohio's GOP Senate primary and will take on Democratic Sen. Sherrod Brown in November, according to NBC.

Brown is one of 10 Senate Democrats running this year in states Trump won in 2016.

Watch these GOP candidates echo Trump to win over voters
Watch these GOP candidates echo Trump to win over voters

Correction: President Donald Trump tweeted about the primary elections on Wednesday morning. An earlier version misstated the day.