If one listens to the narrative advanced by rent-seeking, parasitic Washington political establishment, conservatives were “trounced,” as one publication put it, in Republican congressional primaries this cycle. This narrative could not be further from the truth.
Certainly, there were some disappointments in this election cycle. The loss of Rep. Tim Huelskamp (R-Kan.), one of the most principled conservative members of the House, was a huge blow. Of course, the U.S. Chamber of Commerce and other crony special interests spent heavily to boost his moderate Republican primary opponent.
Former Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio), who, rather than be spurned by the conservative members of his conference and lose his the speakership, resigned his House seat. He may have toasted a glass of red wine when Rep. Huelskamp lost, but this old House seat is now in the hands of a member of the House Freedom Caucus, Rep. Warren Davidson (R-Ohio).
The House Freedom Caucus’ win in Boehner’s backyard was not the only victory for conservatives in 2016. Principled conservatives like Sen. Mike Lee (R-Utah) and Reps. Thomas Massie (R-Ky.), Mark Meadows (R-N.C.), and Dave Brat (R-Va.) avoided primary challenges by sticking to their limited government, constitutionalist principles.
Rep. Paul Gosar (R-Ariz.) won more than 71 percent of the vote against his establishment-backed primary challenger, despite more than $500,000 in outside spending against him, proving that the model that may have worked in one race may not work in another. In Arizona’s 5th District, Andy Biggs won the Republican primary over a challenger favored by the D.C. political elite.