Rep. Mary Miller defeated Rep. Rodney Davis in an House primary in Illinois after redistricting pitted two incumbent Republicans against each other, NBC News projected.
With nearly all of the expected vote counted, Miller held a 15-point edge over Davis.
Miller’s victory marked another win for former President Donald Trump, as well, who backed her as part of his effort to oust several incumbent Republicans deemed insufficiently loyal. Davis ran afoul of Trump by supporting the establishment of an independent commission to investigate the Jan. 6 riot. Davis supported the never-chartered independent commission, not the House select committee now probing the Capitol attack, which held its sixth public hearing Tuesday.
In the weeks leading up to Tuesday’s primary, Trump suffered losses in taking on incumbent Republicans in Georgia, South Carolina and Idaho. He was successful in his effort to oust Rep. Tom Rice, R-S.C., who voted to impeach Trump after the riot. Trump also succeeded in ousting Rep. David McKinley, R-W.V., who lost to Rep. Alex Mooney, R-W.V., after both were drawn into the same district.
Davis and Miller competed in the newly re-drawn 15th congressional district, which now includes a swath of the state that is solidly red. That put Davis, someone whose previous district necessitated a moderate hand, at a disadvantage with an electorate that’s more deeply conservative.
Plus, Trump paid the district a visit on Saturday for a rally backing Miller, who sought to ride momentum from the event into a victory on Tuesday. But the appearance was marred when Miller credited him with a “victory for white life” — a reference to the Supreme Court’s decision to overturn the landmark Roe v. Wade ruling that provided constitutional protections for abortion rights.
Her campaign said she had misread prepared remarks that included the phrase “right to life,” and Miller later told a local radio station that she is not racist. Footage of the moment, with Trump standing on stage just behind her, quickly went viral online, not the least of which because Miller had previously praised Hitler on Jan. 6, 2021, for his youth engagement strategy. She later apologized for that comment.
Davis, the top Republican on the House Administration Committee, blasted Miller for her “white life” remark, saying the comments were “just another part in a disturbing pattern of behavior she’s displayed since coming to Congress,” adding she “has demonstrated she is not fit for public office.”
Miller has a decidedly more pro-Trump voting record than Davis, one of the more moderate members of the House GOP conference, though Davis has promoted where he aligns with Trump throughout the campaign. Miller voted to reject certified electors on Jan. 6 while Davis voted to approve the counting of electoral votes – something Miller repeatedly hammered home to supporters.
Davis had significantly more money in his campaign coffers than Miller, a first-term member. Surveys in the run-up to the election showed a tight race that could’ve gone either way.
Following his defeat, Davis offered a statement congratulating Miller “and President Trump on their victory tonight.”
“This was a hard-fought campaign, and I wish her the best in representing the citizens of the 15th District,” he said, adding, “As Republicans are poised to retake the House, it’s paramount that Republicans in Congress work to end dysfunction and deliver results for the American people.”