Primary change: Minnesota voters defeat longest-serving state house Republican

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August 15, 2012

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By Geoff Pallay

MADISON, Wisconsin: A total of 11 incumbents were defeated in legislative primaries last night, including the longest-serving state house Republican in Minnesota.

Two of the states that held primaries last night -- Connecticut and Minnesota -- nominate most general election candidates via a primary convention process. Thus, there are generally only a handful of actual primaries. This year was no different, as only 20 incumbents between the two states actually faced a primary, which is 6.27 percent of the 319 incumbents running for re-election in Connecticut and Minnesota.

On July 26, 2012, Ballotpedia released an analysis of the rate at which incumbents are being defeated by challengers in state legislative primaries. That study was conducted roughly halfway through the primary season, and found that 76 incumbents had been defeated through the first 48 percent of primaries. After each primary, we update those figures. This update focuses on Connecticut, Florida, Minnesota and Wisconsin. A total of 11 incumbents fell to opponents on August 14, 2012. That brings the total incumbents defeated in 2012 legislative primaries to 151.

Of the 151 incumbents that have lost a primary in 2012, 56 are Democratic incumbents and 95 are Republican incumbents.

Connecticut

A total of 161 Connecticut legislative incumbents filed for re-election. Nine incumbents faced a primary, and opponents were victorious in four of those races. Thus, 44.44 percent of opposed incumbents were defeated by their primary challenger.

There is still one race involving an incumbent that is too close to call. In House District 116, incumbent Lou Esposito (D) currently leads David Forsyth by 10 votes.

The four defeated incumbents is a tremendous uptick from the last set of legislative primaries in Connecticut. In 2010, no incumbents were defeated in legislative primaries in Connecticut.

Florida

A total of 111 Florida legislative incumbents filed for re-election. Thirty-six incumbents faced a primary, and opponents were victorious in three of those races. Thus, 8.33 percent of opposed incumbents were defeated by their primary challenger.

The three total incumbents who lost last night is significantly higher than in 2010 primaries, when no incumbents were defeated.

Minnesota

A total of 158 Minnesota legislative incumbents filed for re-election. Eleven incumbents faced a primary, and opponents were victorious in one of those races. Thus, 9.09 percent of opposed incumbents were defeated by their primary challenger. Steve Smith (R) was defeated by Cindy Pugh. Smith has served in the House since 1991.

In 2010, there were two incumbents defeated in Minnesota legislative primaries.

Wisconsin

A total of 94 Wisconsin legislative incumbents filed for re-election. Sixteen incumbents faced a primary, and opponents were victorious in two of those races. Thus, 12.50 percent of opposed incumbents were defeated by their primary challenger.

In 2010, one Wisconsin incumbent was defeated in a legislative primary.

What's next

The next state legislative primary takes place Tuesday, August 21 in Wyoming.

Cumulative table of results

Individual State Results Nationwide Cumulative Results
State Primary date Total Incumbents Running Total Incumbents Facing Primary Total Incumbents Defeated % Incumbents Defeated*** Total Incumbents Defeated Total Incumbents Facing primary % Incumbents Defeated***
Connecticut 8/14/2012 161 9 4+++ 44.44% 151 837 18.04%
Florida 8/14/2012 111 36 3 8.33% 151 837 18.04%
Minnesota 8/14/2012 158 11 1 9.09% 151 837 18.04%
Wisconsin 8/14/2012 94 16 2 12.50% 151 837 18.04%
Hawaii 8/11/2012 71 27 5 18.5% 141 765 18.43%
Kansas 8/7/2012 129 53 20 37.74% 136 738 18.43%
Michigan 8/7/2012 91 36 5 13.89% 136 738 18.43%
Missouri 8/7/2012 126 35 8 22.86% 136 738 18.43%
Washington 8/7/2012 93 14 0 0% 136 738 18.43%
Tennessee 8/2/2012 104 37 12 32.43% 103 600 17.17%
Georgia 7/31/2012 210 50 11 22.00% 91 563 16.16%
Utah 6/26/2012 78 29 8 27.59% 80 513 15.59%
Colorado 6/26/2012 54 5 2 40.00% 72 484 14.88%
Oklahoma 6/26/2012 105 12 1 8.33% 70 479 14.61%
Maine 6/12/2012 121 5 0 0.00% 69 467 14.78%
Nevada 6/12/2012 36 12 2 16.67% 69 462 14.94%
South Carolina 6/12/2012 146 37 6 16.22% 67 450 14.89%
North Dakota 6/12/2012 75 7 4 57.14% 61 413 14.77%
California 6/5/2012 56 20 0 0.00% 57 406 14.04%
Montana 6/5/2012 82 17 4 23.53% 57 386 14.77%
Iowa 6/5/2012 97 16 3 18.75% 53 369 14.36%
New Mexico 6/5/2012 92 29 5 17.24% 50 353 14.16%
South Dakota 6/5/2012 74 23 5 21.74% 45 324 13.89%
Texas 5/29/2012 147 45 11 24.44% 40 301 13.29%
Kentucky 5/22/2012 106 21 1 4.76% 29 256 11.33%
Arkansas 5/22/2012 88 14 2 14.29% 28 235 11.91%
Nebraska 5/15/2012 17 5 0 0.00% 26 221 11.76%
Oregon 5/15/2012 66 4 2 50.00% 26 216 12.04%
Idaho 5/15/2012 70 34 3 8.82% 24 212 11.32%
West Virginia 5/8/2012 98 37 2 5.41% 21 178 11.80%
Indiana 5/8/2012 105 17 0 0.00% 19 141 13.48%
North Carolina 5/8/2012 128 39 7 17.95% 19 124 15.32%
Pennsylvania 4/24/2012 210 37 5 13.51% 12 85 14.12%
Illinois 3/20/2012 149 33 6 18.18% 7 48 14.58%
Ohio 3/6/2012 101 15 1 6.67% 1 15 6.67%
***Note: The percent is calculated by dividing the total number of incumbents who lost by the number of incumbents who actually faced a primary. It is not using the total number of incumbents who ran for re-election.

+++Note: As of August 15, 2012, there is one remaining race involving an incumbent that is too close to call.

Full study

See also