WASHINGTON -- Chalk up another win for the tea party. And another embarrassment for the Republican establishment.
Tea party favorite and two-term state lawmaker Raul Labrador defeated Vaughn Ward, a Marine reservist heavily recruited by national Republicans, in Idaho's primary on Tuesday. Ward's loss comes on the heels of several other races in which GOP establishment candidates stumbled as the anti-Washington mood takes hold.
National Republicans had coached Ward and had made him one of their first named recruits, known as "Young Guns." He also had the backing of former vice presidential candidate Sarah Palin.
On Wednesday, the GOP wasn't talking about Ward.
"We look forward to continuing to work with Raul Labrador and are focused on the election in November," said Paul Lindsay, a spokesman for the National Republican Congressional Committee.
Republicans, who hope to win 40 or more House seats to seize back control of the House, have set their sights on districts like Idaho's 1st, where Republican presidential candidate John McCain won 62 percent of the vote in 2008.
The seat is held by a conservative first-term Democrat, Rep. Walt Minnick.
Ward, a decorated Iraq veteran, was an early front-runner and built a 6-1 fundraising edge, but Labrador entered the race and capitalized on Ward's mistakes.
Allegations of plagiarism surfaced as Ward was caught using issue papers from other campaigns. Then, during the final days before the primary, it was discovered that he used President Barack Obama's 2004 speech to the Democratic National Committee to launch his GOP campaign.
Last week, another recruit, Jeff Reetz, lost his Kentucky primary to a tea party favorite, and Mary Beth Buchanan lost her primary challenge in Pennsylvania. In February, Ethan Hastert, the son of the former Republican Speaker Dennis Hastert, lost his GOP primary.