- Associated Press - Wednesday, June 15, 2016

RICHMOND, Va. (AP) - U.S. Rep. Randy Forbes had a pile of money to spend on TV ads, pollsters and consultants, strong backing from the local business community, and a solidly conservative voting record.

But in the end, he didn’t have a chance.

Forbes was walloped in Virginia’s 2nd Congressional District GOP primary Tuesday. He became the latest party elder to be felled by an insurgent campaign and serving as another reminder that seniority in Washington and loads of campaign cash don’t guarantee victories in Virginia Republican primaries.

The defeat comes a few months after billionaire businessman Donald Trump carried the Old Dominion in a GOP primary on his way to besting well-funded political insiders and becoming the presumptive Republican presidential nominee.

And two years ago then-U.S. Majority Leader Eric Cantor lost in a Richmond-area primary upset to tea party challenger Dave Brat, who painted Cantor as an out-of-touch creature of Washington. The loss was so epic that “to be Cantored” has become part of the political lexicon in Virginia.

Forbes’ opponent, state House Delegate Scott Taylor, ran a similar campaign to Brat’s. Taylor turning what was once a selling point to voters - seniority in Washington and the ability to bring home federal bucks - into a major liability.

“What matters to voters in Republican primaries has in many ways been completely transformed,” said Bob Holsworth, a consultant and retired Virginia Commonwealth University political analyst. “Traditional arguments about congressional seniority don’t seem to carry much weight.”

Forbes’ defeat is the latest reminder that once-reliable political playbooks in GOP primaries don’t work anymore. Forbes did not make any obvious missteps in his campaign, and he heavily outraised and outspent his opponent.

Forbes’ cash advantage allowed him to emphasize in ads his senior ranking on defense spending matters in the House. The 2nd Congressional District includes Norfolk Naval Base, the largest in the world, and its economy is heavily reliant on federal spending.

Taylor, meanwhile, ran a much leaner operation but was able to win with a simple overarching message: Washington is broken and longtime congressmen like Forbes are the reason why.

To be sure, Forbes’ status as a Washington insider wasn’t the only reason for his defeat.

Forbes was hurt by the fact that did not live in the district and was trying to switch from representing the neighboring 4th Congressional District. Forbes made the move after federal judges ordered a new congressional map that made the 4th District far less friendly to Republicans.

Steve Albertson, a longtime Republican activist, said Tuesday’s election results don’t point to any broader “ideological schism” within the party. Instead, he said, it shows that shows Taylor had a better connection to the local community and voters had more important considerations than congressional seniority.

“It really comes to down to having local networks,” Albertson said.

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