Congressional Incumbents: Beware the Ides of March

Bailiff Garrett Cole of Madison, Miss., has "I Voted" stickers ready to distribute to all who exit the voting booths Tuesday, Aug. 4, 2015.
AP Photo/Rogelio V. Solis

If you are an establishment Republican in the House or Senate who has drawn a conservative challenger in a March primary, there’s only one way to put it. You drew the short straw.

Alabama, Texas, North Carolina, Illinois, and Ohio will all hold their presidential and congressional primaries on March 1 and March 15 respectively. In the midst of a definitive anti-Washington election cycle developing at the presidential level, this omnipresent dynamic could cause a whole lot of heartburn for darlings of the D.C. establishment.

At the top of the ticket, poll after poll indicates that anti-establishment outsiders Donald Trump, Ted Cruz, and Ben Carson are commanding an enormous portion of the overall primary vote. Primary voters in these five states who have committed to vote for Trump, Cruz, or Carson, should also vote for the conservative challenger down ballot. Here are a few races to consider.

In the Alabama Senate race, 37-year Washington insider and former Democrat Senator Richard Shelby has an outstanding primary opponent in Marine Captain and conservative small businessman Jonathan McConnell (no relation to Mitch). Shelby’s votes to confirm Hillary Clinton and John Kerry as Secretary of State, and liberals Ruth Bader Ginsburg and Stephen Breyer to the Supreme Court are against the wishes of a vast majority of his conservative constituents in Alabama.

In Alabama’s Second congressional district primary, incumbent Martha Roby will square off against popular local tea party founder Becky Gerritson. Rep. Roby has been described as having “a reputation for being one of the more moderate members of Alabama’s Republican House delegation.” The Alabama primary is on March 1, less than 50 days from now.

Also on March 1, Texas Republicans go the polls to make their picks for president and congress. Voters in the Lone Star State will be glad to know that they have a conservative choice for congress in the 32nd district against longtime John Boehner lieutenant and Washington insider Pete Sessions. With Texan Ted Cruz on the ballot at the presidential level, conservative challenger Russ Ramsland has some wind at his back in his race to dethrone career Congressman Sessions.

In North Carolina’s Second congressional district where there is a March 15 primary, conservative businessman Jim Duncan is running a professional campaign against RINO Congresswoman Renee Ellmers. Duncan is making the case that Ellmers turned her back on her conservative constituents as soon as she got to Congress in 2011, voting to fund Planned Parenthood and President Obama’s amnesty plan along the way. How could a Trump, Cruz, or Carson voter in North Carolina also vote for Renee Ellmers on the same ballot? Not a likely scenario if voters become educated about Rep. Ellmers’ voting record.

Ohio also votes on March 15, and former State Representative Matt Lynch is running in a rematch against Congressman David Joyce in the 14th congressional district. Lynch has some name recognition having garnered 45 percent of the vote in 2014 and no Trump/Cruz/Carson voter should consider voting for Joyce, who has been a reliable moderate vote for John Boehner and congressional leadership for years.

In Illinois’ 15th congressional district, entrenched career Congressman John Shimkus has earned a credible conservative challenger in State Senator Kyle McCarter. With a 39 percent score and F rating from Conservative Review, it’s tough to envision a Trump, Cruz, or Carson supporter voting to hire Shimkus for another two years. To make matter worse, Shimkus broke his own term limit pledge years ago. Illinois holds its primary election on March 15 as well.

My PAC, Citizens United Political Victory Fund, has already endorsed McConnell, Duncan, and Lynch, and Gerritson, Ramsland, and McCarter are on our radar.

In all of these states, change agents Donald Trump and Ted Cruz will dominate the primaries at the presidential level, with perhaps as much as 80 percent of the total vote. Primary voters in these states must do their homework and understand that a Trump or Cruz presidency will be that much more successful if they can work with some newly elected conservative outsiders in the House and Senate.