Jun 14, 2022 - Politics & Policy

Impeachment Republican Tom Rice loses to Trump-backed foe

Rep. Tom Rice (R-S.C.). Photo: Tom Williams/CQ-Roll Call via Getty Images

Rep. Tom Rice (R-S.C.) lost his re-election bid to Trump-endorsed challenger Russell Fry on Tuesday night, according to AP.

Why it matters: Rice is the first House Republican to lose his or her re-election bid to a Republican primary challenger after voting to impeach former President Trump over his role in the Jan. 6 attack on the U.S. Capitol.

  • Several others, including Rep. Liz Cheney (R-Wyo.), the vice chair of the Jan. 6 select committee, are also at risk of losing to Trump-endorsed challengers.

Driving the news: Fry, a state representative, emerged from a field of seven candidates who have all relentlessly attacked Rice for his impeachment vote.

  • Fry avoided a widely expected runoff by winning more than 50% of the vote.

The backdrop: Rice, who signed onto the Texas v. Pennsylvania amicus brief and voted to object to Arizona's and Pennsylvania's electoral votes, reversed course last January and voted with 10 other Republicans to impeach Trump.

  • Rice cited Trump's "weak requests for restraint" as the Capitol was under siege in a statement explaining his vote at the time.
  • "He has not visited the injured and grieving. He has not offered condolences," he continued. "I have backed this President through thick and thin for four years ... but this utter failure is inexcusable."

The state of play: Rice has since been on the defensive, trying to make the case to his deeply conservative district why voting for impeachment was the right thing to do.

  • He said in a debate in May, "The one difference between me and all those leaders back in Washington who said, 'Oh, Donald Trump went too far, he should be impeached' ... and then voted the other way: I took the principled stand."
  • Fry hammered Rice for his vote, putting out ads accusing Rice of "join[ing] the far-left" in a "politically weaponized impeachment."

The big picture: While Trump-endorsed candidates have tended to come out on top in GOP primaries this cycle, he has had several high-profile losses.

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