Rep. Diane Black (R-Tenn.), the House Budget Committee chairwoman, gave up her seat to run for governor, a race she was favored to win. She didn't even make it to the finals. On Thursday, Black placed third in the Republican primary, losing badly to a business executive and political novice, Bill Lee. She's got company. Four other House Republicans seeking statewide office have also lost their bids, and their House seats, this year — Reps. Todd Rokita and Luke Messer in Indiana, Rep. Raul Labrador in Idaho, and Rep. Evan Jenkins in West Virginia — and two other House Republicans, Mark Sanford (S.C.) and Robert Pittenger (N.C.), were unseated by challengers in their primaries.
"It's getting harder to be an ambitious House Republican these days," Axios notes, especially if, like Black, you don't get President Trump's explicit endorsement. But Trump's blessing in a business-pragmatic state like Tennessee is a decidedly mixed one, says Tara Golshan at Vox. And Black's campaign had the "politically fatal combination" of being both "overwhelmingly Trump-y" and perceived as running "a creature of Washington." This is actually a growing problem for Republican incumbents, Axios points out. "The last time every single Republican House member who ran for other offices (Senate or governor) won their primary was in 2000. All six became the nominee in their races, but all six ended up losing the general election to a Democrat."
That isn't so surprising, especially this year, Golshan argues. "The ruling party is usually disadvantaged in midterm elections, and after two years of more partisan drama and chaos in Congress than actual legislating, many of these lawmakers are going home with little to show for themselves and the party." Peter Weber