Rep. Guy Vander Jagt of Michigan is chairman of the House of Representatives committee that advises and supports Republican candidates for the House. On Tuesday he was defeated in a Republican primary. He got only 41 percent of the vote. On the same day, Republican Rep. Dick Nichols of Kansas lost his renomination bid, getting only 34 percent of the vote.
Those two outcomes bring to 15 the number of House incumbents who have lost in primaries this year. That is almost double the most recent record -- eight primary losers in 1974 -- and close to the modern era record of 18 in 1946. And it is by no means over yet: 20 states have yet to hold congressional primaries.
The authoritative and non-partisan Congressional Quarterly predicted last February that "public anger at scandals, the redistricting process and the creation of more minority districts will mean close to 100 new faces in 1993." That conventional wisdom turns out to have been far too cautious and conservative. In the House alone, 85 new faces are already assured (some defeated, some seeking other office, but most retiring -- many out of fear). There are still those remaining primaries -- and then the general election, where the casualty rate among incumbents is expected to be high. (The Democratic campaign counterpart of Representative Vander Jagt, Rep. Vic Fazio of California, for example, is in a very tough race.)