In recapping the GOP primary runoff in South Carolina, Jim Antle neglected to mention the result that rendered this a trifecta of good news for limited-government conservatives: The defeat of Rep. Bob Inglis, who voted for the 2008 TARP bailout and lost Tuesday by more than a 2-to-1 margin to Trey Gowdy. As National Journal‘s Reid Wilson notes, the TARP vote was also a factor in the gubernatorial primary:
Also Tuesday, Rep. Gresham Barrett (R), once the front-runner in the race to succeed SC Gov. Mark Sanford (R), finished way behind state Rep. Nikki Haley (R) in a runoff election. Haley beat Barrett, who voted for TARP, by a 65%-35% margin.
Inglis’ and Barrett’s losses come a month after Sen. Bob Bennett (R-UT) lost his chance at winning a fourth term when he finished third at his state’s GOP convention. Bennett was one of 34 GOP senators to vote in favor of TARP legislation in Oct. ’08 — a vote both his opponents used to campaign against him.
The defeat or retirement of TARP-tainted incumbents like Inglis and Bennett is the best way for Republicans to repair their party’s Bush-era “brand damage.”