A GOP upset in Idaho

A GOP UPSET IN IDAHO…. The Republican primary in Idaho’s1st congressional district would, under normal circumstances, fail to generate national attention. But Vaughn Ward (R) proved to be so endlessly entertaining, the primary contest took on unexpected significance, just by virtue of the sheer comedic value.

In a bit of a disappointment for those of us hoping to use Ward for amusing blog posts for the rest of the campaign season, the Republican favorite was handed an upset defeat in the Gem State last night.

Top national GOP recruit Vaughn Ward on Tuesday lost his primary in Idaho after a series of missteps by his campaign, throwing the Republican Party’s chances in doubt against top-targeted Rep. Walt Minnick (D-Idaho).

Ward was trailing state Rep. Raul Labrador (R) 48 to 39 percent, with 90 percent of precincts reporting. The Associated Press called the race for Labrador early Wednesday.

For reporters anxious to argue that establishment-backed candidates are in trouble this year, I suppose Ward will be a useful data point. The national Republican Party is aggressively targeting Rep. Walt Minnick, Congress’ most conservative Democrat, in a reliably “red” district. The state and national party enthusiastically embraced Ward as one of the year’s top Republican contenders.

Indeed, the NRCC included Ward as one of the first candidates on the campaign committee’s “Young Guns” program, and just last week, a certain former half-term governor campaigned alongside Ward in Idaho. Ward also enjoyed a six-to-one fundraising edge over primary challenger, Labrador.

But Ward managed to lose badly anyway, despite all the institutional support, because he was arguably the year’s worst congressional candidate. His recent troubles included blatant plagiarism from an Obama speech; blatant plagiarism on his website of Ward’s policy positions; and odd remarks during a debate in which he characterized Puerto Rico as a foreign country. Ward was also reprimanded last month for violating military protocol when he gave the impression that the U.S. Marine Corps was supporting his campaign.

The Republican Party stood by him anyway, making his defeat that much more embarrassing for everyone involved.

So long, Vaughn Ward. We knew ye a little too well.