Aug 24, 2022 - Politics

Impeachment Republican Dan Newhouse could be the last one standing

Primary election status of House Republicans who voted for Donald Trump's impeachment
Data: Axios research; Table: Kavya Beheraj/Axios

Only two of the 10 Republicans who voted to impeach former President Trump have a shot at returning to Congress in 2023 — and one is from Washington state.

Driving the news: With U.S. Rep. Liz Cheney's primary loss in Wyoming last week, U.S. Rep. Dan Newhouse of Washington (R-Sunnyside) is one of only two pro-impeachment Republicans who will appear on the ballot in November.

  • The other is U.S. Rep. David Valadao of California, who survived his primary, but is more likely than Newhouse to lose to a Democrat in the general election.
  • Four other pro-impeachment Republicans — including Cheney and U.S. Rep. Jaime Herrera Beutler (R-Battle Ground) — lost their primaries to pro-Trump challengers in recent weeks.
  • The remaining four lawmakers chose to retire rather than seek re-election.

The big picture: Cornell Clayton, director of the Thomas S. Foley Institute for Public Policy at Washington State University, said the losses and retirements of pro-impeachment Republicans show how populists like Trump have become the dominant force within today's GOP.

  • "They now control the party," Clayton said Tuesday. "I think it's bad news for moderate Republicans — I think they're an endangered species now."

The other side: Alex Hays, a Republican political consultant in Washington state, said Clayton's conclusion ignores how Democrats spent money to promote far-right challengers in some key races, in attempts to set up easier wins for their own party in November.

  • In Michigan, for instance, the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee paid more than $400,000 for ads that boosted Trump-endorsed John Gibbs over GOP U.S. Rep. Peter Meijer, a pro-impeachment Republican who ultimately lost his primary.
  • "Much of this analysis about how Trump is running the tables is simply false," Hays told Axios.
  • Regarding Republicans who have stood up to Trump: "Where they have not done well, it is because of the intervention of the Democratic Party in many cases."

Between the lines: Both of the pro-impeachment Republicans who survived their primaries, Newhouse and Valadao, are in states with top-two primary systems.

  • Those types of primaries — in which the top two vote-getters advance regardless of their party affiliation — are designed to favor more moderate candidates, Clayton said.

Yes, but: Washington's top-two primary didn't save Herrera Beutler, who was narrowly edged out by Joe Kent, a former Green Beret endorsed by Trump.

  • Clayton said Herrera Beulter was more outspoken about her impeachment vote than Newhouse — including by urging witnesses to come forward in the Senate trial against the then-president — which likely made her more vulnerable.

What's next: While Trump-backed candidates have edged out establishment Republicans in some key races, Clayton said it remains to be seen whether all will prevail against Democrats in November.

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