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GOP Rep. Tom Rice is the first pro-impeachment Republican to lose to a Trump-backed primary challenger

Republican Rep. Tom Rice of South Carolina and former President Donald Trump.

AP Photos/Alex Brandon and Charlie Neibergall

  • Rice became the first pro-impeachment Republican to lose to a Trump-backed primary challenger.
  • Of the 10 House Republicans who voted to impeach Trump, four are retiring and one won renomination.
  • The next four are set to face Republican voters this August, and some have better chances than Rice.

Former President Donald Trump got his first official victory on Tuesday night in his quest to oust congressional Republicans who voted to impeach him after the January 6 Capitol riot.

Republican Rep. Tom Rice of South Carolina — a five-term, otherwise low-key conservative who has likened Trump to a tyrant and a dictator in the year and a half since the attack — lost handily to South Carolina State Sen. Russell Fry, who had the former president’s endorsement.

Results from Insider’s partners at Decision Desk HQ showed Fry trouncing Rice by a greater than 2-to-1 margin for the Republican nomination in the state’s 7th district, beating Rice outright and avoiding a runoff. 

Rice’s defeat marks the first time in the 2022 midterm cycle that a Republican who voted to impeach Trump after January 6 has actually lost to a primary challenger. 

Four of the ten House Republicans who voted to impeach have chosen to retire, including:

  • Rep. Adam Kinzinger of Illinois
  • Rep. Anthony Gonzales of Ohio
  • Rep. Fred Upton of Michigan
  • Rep. John Katko of New York

Republican Rep. David Valadao of California appears likely to advance to the general election in California’s 22nd Congressional district, and is currently leading right-wing challenger Chris Mathys by just under four percentage points.

The remaining four House Republicans are set to face voters this August, including:

  • Rep. Peter Meijer of Michigan on August 2
  • Rep. Jaime Herrera Beutler of Washington on August 2
  • Rep. Dan Newhouse of Washington on August 2
  • Rep. Liz Cheney of Wyoming on August 16

While Trump has endorsed former Housing and Urban Development official John Gibbs over Meijer, campaign finance disclosures reveal that Meijer has outraised Gibbs nearly ten-fold: $2.1 million versus $227,000 to date.

And in Washington, both Herrera Beutler and Newhouse may benefit from the state’s top-two primary system as they seek to fend off Trump-backed opponents Joe Kent and Loren Culp, respectively. 

Like in California, all primary candidates from all parties run on the same ballot in Washington’s primaries and the top two, regardless of party, advance to the general election. All registered voters can vote in Washington’s primary elections, allowing both candidates to potentially draw support from independents and Democrats.

But in Wyoming, Cheney — the vice-chair of the January 6 committee and perhaps Trump’s most outspoken Republican critic — appears to be in political peril.

Insider’s Oma Seddiq recently spoke with Cheney supporters who believe they are the “silent majority” in the state, even as Trump, the state party, and other national Republicans have shunned the one-time leader of the House Republican conference. Polling has also shown Cheney trailing Trump-backed challenger Harriet Hageman, and Trump garnered nearly 70% of the vote in Wyoming in 2020 — the highest margin of any state.

Meanwhile in the Senate, just one of the seven Republicans who voted to convict Trump, Sen. Lisa Murkowski of Alaska, will face voters this year. But she too may benefit from the mechanics of the election system in her state. In 2020, Alaska voted to enact top-four primaries where candidates of all parties run on the same primary ballot similar to California and Washington, ensuring that Murkowski won’t face only Republican voters in her primary.

Then, in the general election, voters will pick between the top four candidates with ranked-choice voting, guaranteeing that the winning candidate will win with the majority of the vote. 

Murkowski also previously waged a successful write-in campaign in 2010 after losing to a conservative primary challenger.

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