I know a little about Tom Rice because a friend of mine, Gloria Tinubu, ran against him twice and Blue America endorsed her. The first time was in 2012 when SC-07 was first created in the eastern part of the state from the coast south of Georgetown all the way along the North Carolina border as far as Chesterfield County. The district includes all of Chesterfield, Dillon, Georgetown, Horry, Marlboro, Darlington and Marion counties and some of Florence. It's over 65% white and safely Republican, with an R+9 PVI. Trump won the district both times-- with 58% in 2016 and with 59% in 2020. The district would be almost a swing district if not for blood red Horry County, the Republican bastion in the furthest east point of the state, which includes Myrtle Beach and the most voters in the district. My friend Gloria, a Bernie-quality progressive, acquitted herself well in that first run, although Rice, running on a garden variety conservative platform, beat her 153,068 (55.51%) to 122,389 (44.39%). Rice has been reelected with alacrity every time since.
In Congress he's been a standard-grade conservative Republican-- an anti-mask crackpot who refused to wear them and saw himself and his entire family become infected with COVID-19. A member of the right-wing Republican Study Committee, he has been adamantly against public healthcare and he signed the original amicus brief contesting the election results in Pennsylvania. The something weird happened.
Rice, out of the blue, was one of only 10 Republicans to vote to impeach Trump for the coup attempt. Other than Liz Cheney, who had been signaling she would vote to impeach, Rice's vote was a shock to conservatives. This was his official statement:
Under the strict definition of the law, I don’t know if the President’s speech last Wednesday morning amounted to incitement of a riot, but any reasonable person could see the potential for violence.
Once the violence began, when the Capitol was under siege, when the Capitol Police were being beaten and killed, and when the Vice President and the Congress were being locked down, the President was watching and tweeted about the Vice President’s lack of courage.
For hours while the riot continued, the President communicated only on Twitter and offered only weak requests for restraint.
I was on the floor of the House of Representatives when the rioters were beating on the door with tear gas, zip tie restraints, and pipe bombs in their possession. It is only by the grace of God and the blood of the Capitol Police that the death toll was not much, much higher.
It has been a week since so many were injured, the United States Capitol was ransacked, and six people were killed, including two police officers. Yet, the President has not addressed the nation to ask for calm. He has not visited the injured and grieving. He has not offered condolences. Yesterday in a press briefing at the border, he said his comments were "perfectly appropriate."
I have backed this President through thick and thin for four years. I campaigned for him and voted for him twice. But, this utter failure is inexcusable.
That was certainly not the GOP group-thought anyone would expect from Rice. And this morning the NY Times reported that-- along with the other 9 Republicans who voted to impeach-- are facing a backlash from the right. They will all face primary challenges. Steve Bannon has already endorsed a neo-fascist opponent to Peter Meijer, the swing-district Michigan freshman who ran as a Trumpist in the primary, eased towards mainstream centrism in the general and voted to impeach. And the Times report notes that "Nearly all of the House Republicans who voted to impeach Mr. Trump have either already been formally censured by local branches of the GOP, face upcoming censure votes or have been publicly scolded by local party leaders. Efforts across the country to punish these lawmakers offer vivid illustrations of the divisions cleaving a party that has been shut out of power."
Reid Epstein and Katie Glueck reported that "The 10 House Republicans who voted for impeachment are already facing a fleet of primary challengers, censures and other rebukes from their hometown Republican Party organizations, an indication that the battle over Mr. Trump will play a defining role in shaping the direction of the party during the next two years. 'Trump might be gone, but Trumpism is virtually guaranteed to be a part of the 2022 elections,' said Ken Spain, a former senior official at the National Republican Congressional Committee. 'The tectonic plates have shifted within the G.O.P. and now members are trying to figure out how to straddle the fault lines.' The impeachment votes are not only being framed as a loyalty test to Mr. Trump, they are also being used to tie the incumbents to Democrats like Speaker Nancy Pelosi, who for more than a decade has been the central bogeywoman in Republican congressional campaigns, with mixed results."
Former Myrtle Beach Mayor Mark McBride and Horry County school board chairman Ken Richardson are just two of the many Republicans about to primary Rice. McBride is leading a petition drive meant to force Rice to resign. Both he and Richardson insist Trump won the election and was cheated out of it and that Trump did not instigate the sacking the Capitol.
Epstein and Glueck wrote that "Tom Norton, a Michigan businessman and Army veteran who lost a 2020 primary to Mr. Meijer, said the congressman called him to give him a heads-up the day he voted to impeach Mr. Trump. Mr. Norton immediately filed paperwork to mount another campaign against Mr. Meijer in 2022. Mr. Norton said he believed Mr. Meijer made a mistake in blaming Mr. Trump for inciting the riot. 'We have a lot of people with a lot of passion and we can’t control everybody,' he said, before going on to exaggerate the pockets of unrest that took place alongside last year’s largely peaceful protests for racial justice. 'Blaming President Trump is the same thing as blaming Kamala Harris and Joe Biden for all the riots that antifa did last summer.'" MI-03, which includes Grand Rapids and Battle Creek, is a very establishment GOP district with a PVI of R+6. Trump won it with 52% in 2016 and with 51% in 2020. Voters there prefer their Republicans vanilla. Kent County is where elections are won there and Gretchen Whitmer (D) beat Bill Schuette (R) for governor there in 2018, at the same time Kent was helping reelect Debbie Stabenow to the Senate.
Representative John Katko of Central New York, who was the first G.O.P. lawmaker to back impeachment, is one of the few remaining Republicans who represents a Democratic-leaning district. Some Republicans in his district were outraged by his vote.
“‘Not very happy’ would be the politest way to say it,” said Fred Beardsley, the chairman of the Oswego County Republican Committee. “We’re very upset. I’m tremendously upset.”
“I think Mr. Katko crossed a line,” he continued. “He double-crossed us.”
For Mr. Katko and Representatives Adam Kinzinger of Illinois, Anthony Gonzalez of Ohio, David Valadao of California, and Fred Upton and Mr. Meijer of Michigan, all Republicans who voted for impeachment and hail from states likely to lose seats in this year’s redistricting process, the shapes of the districts they may seek to represent in 2022 have yet to be determined.
Democratic state legislators in New York and Illinois could draw Mr. Katko and Mr. Kinzinger into districts represented by fellow incumbent Republicans, potentially cutting off a path for a Trumpian insurgent, while commissions will determine district lines in California, Michigan and Ohio.
Gene Koprowski, a conservative filmmaker who filed to run against Mr. Kinzinger, said he did so to start raising money but he is waiting for the Illinois legislature to redraw its congressional district maps before formally beginning a campaign.
Challengers to Ms. Cheney, who represents the single at-large Wyoming district, don’t face the same calculation. Anthony Bouchard, a state senator, announced his campaign on Wednesday as President Biden was being inaugurated. By Thursday night, he was a guest on Newsmax TV and Laura Ingraham’s program on Fox News.
...Republicans have long battled one another over perceived purity tests, and in recent years the most powerful litmus test in the eyes of primary voters has centered on fealty to Mr. Trump.
“President Trump enjoys a high approval rating within the Republican Party, and his supporters are loyal,” said Joel Mattila, the Republican chairman in Clark County, Wash. His committee has already issued a warning to Representative Jaime Herrera Beutler, a Republican who voted to impeach.
“She’s going to face a primary challenge, based on what I’m hearing,” he said. “It seems like, as people are stewing on it and as time is passing, the intensity level is definitely increasing.”
Mr. Spain, the former House Republican campaign official, said it would fall to the corporate donors that typically support Republicans to provide financial support to the 10 who voted to impeach Mr. Trump. Michael McAdams, the N.R.C.C.’s communications director, said that the committee does not engage in primaries. That applies to incumbents in contested races, too.
“I would hope,” Mr. Spain said, “that members of the business community who are standing on principle and refusing to support Republicans who voted against certifying the election results would focus their energy and resources toward helping those members who did stand up on behalf of the American democratic process.”
It's odd that Epstein and Glueck didn't mention that the 10 members and their families have been threatened with death by Trumpist extremists. Meijer, in fact, talks in interviews about traveling with armed guards, altering his routes and wearing body armor. "Our expectation is that someone might try to kill us," he told a TV audience. And he's not talking about Antifa or BLM.