Ideological Primaries and their Influence in Congress

Authored by: Caitlin E. Jewitt , Sarah A. Treul

Routledge Handbook of Primary Elections

Print publication date:  February  2018
Online publication date:  February  2018

Print ISBN: 9781138684089
eBook ISBN: 9781315544182
Adobe ISBN:


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Fred Upton, a moderate Republican, was first elected in 1986 to represent the people of Michigan’s fourth congressional district. 1 Perhaps due in part to the district’s location on the shores of Lake Michigan, 2 one of Upton’s most prominent issues early in his congressional career was environmental regulation. As recently as 2007 Upton worked across the aisle with Democrats to pass the Energy and Independence and Security Act, which, among other things, promoted the production of clean renewable fuels, offered incentives for the development of plug-in hybrids, and banned the manufacturing of incandescent light bulbs. In 2009 Upton even spoke about the importance of reducing emissions and, while attending the Copenhagen Climate Change Conference, stated that lowering emissions would be good for the world (Sheppard 2011). In fact, Upton’s climate change positions were so out of line with mainstream conservative thinking of the time that in 2010 when Upton’s name began circulating among Republicans as a potential chairman for the House Committee on Energy and Commerce, many conservatives came out against Upton, calling him a RINO (Republican In Name Only). During the battle for the committee chairmanship, the Tea Party organization FreedomWorks launched a campaign against Upton, portraying him as pro-environment and pro-regulation. Despite the opposition, Upton went on to become the chairman of the Energy and Commerce committee in the 112th Congress (2011–2012), a position he served in until the 115th Congress.

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