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Mica thumps Adams in latest member-versus-member primary

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Aug. 14, 2012: Rep. John Mica, R-Fla., left, thanks supporters after news outlets declared him the winner of the Republican primary for his Congressional seat in Casselberry, Fla. (AP)

House Transportation Committee Chairman John Mica, R-Fla., trounced freshman Rep. Sandy Adams, R-Fla., in the Florida Republican primary Tuesday after redistricting lumped the two incumbents into a contentious race.

The nomination battle symbolized the tensions between the establishment Republican Party and the Tea Party wing. Mica’s victory demonstrates the remaining power of longtime incumbency despite recent primaries that lifted conservative insurgents.

Adams becomes the second freshman of the class of 2010 and the first Republican elected in the 2010 to lose nomination for a second term. Rep. Hansen Clarke, D-Mich., lost last week.

Mica, first elected in 1992, heads the House panel that oversees the nation’s transportation and infrastructure policies. He negotiated the federal highway funding bill with Senate Public Works Committee Chairwoman Barbara Boxer, D-Calif., that languished in Congress for months until it passed both chambers in late June.

Not a single Democrat voted against the final transportation legislation crafted by a group of bipartisan House and Senate negotiators known as a conference committee. They were joined by 187 Republicans in support. But 52 Republicans, including Adams, opposed it because they thought the $105 billion legislation cost too much.

Mica’s signature legislative achievement for the Orlando-area district was procuring over $300 million for the SunRail commuter line. But Adams criticized Mica, who she labeled as entrenched in the ways of Washington, for obtaining earmarks.

For her part, Adams is a sponsor of the House version of the Violence Against Women Act reauthorization. Adams is a survivor of domestic abuse and formerly served as an Orange County sheriff's deputy for 17 years. But her bill failed to win support from Democrats who said it failed to expand protections for illegal immigrants, gays and lesbians and Native Americans. 

Both Adams and Mica trotted out high-profile endorsements. Mica won the support of Fox News host and 2008 presidential contender Mike Huckabee. Meanwhile, Adams received backing from 2008 vice presidential nominee Sarah Palin and Maricopa Sheriff Joe Arpaio.

Additionally, fellow freshman Rep. Allen West, R-Fla., lent support to Adams. He became the first sitting member of the Florida congressional delegation to endorse in the incumbent-on-incumbent race.

Adams joins seven other sitting House members who lost their primaries in member versus member contests this cycle. Others were Reps. Dennis Kucinich, D-Ohio, Don Manzullo, R-Ill., Jason Altmire, D-Pa., Steve Rothman, D-N.J., Russ Carnahan, D-Mo., and Clarke.

Freshman Reps. Dave Schweikert, R-Ariz., and Ben Quayle, R-Ariz., face off in another member-on-member primary later this month.