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Another GOP member of the Impeachment 10 heads for the exits

In theory, Republican Rep. John Katko has a compelling reason to run for re-election, but we know why he's retiring anyway.
Rep. John Katko, R-N.Y., leaves a meeting of the House Republican Conference at the Capitol Hill Club on Dec., 1, 2021.
Rep. John Katko, R-N.Y., leaves a meeting of the House Republican Conference at the Capitol Hill Club on Dec., 1, 2021.Tom Williams / CQ-Roll Call, Inc via Getty Images file

In theory, Republican Rep. John Katko has a compelling reason to run for re-election: The New York congressman is the ranking member on the Homeland Security Committee, and if the GOP takes back the House majority, he'd be in line to lead the influential panel.

But in practice, there's a ceiling on Katko's prospects. The New Yorker supported last year's infrastructure compromise; he helped negotiate a bipartisan deal to create an independent 9/11 commission; he backed a criminal contempt referral against Steve Bannon for failing to comply with a congressional subpoena; and he voted to impeach Donald Trump a year ago this week.

It reached the point two months ago that some House Republicans pushed party leaders to punish Katko for his partisan heresies. It was against this backdrop that the House Republican decided to call it quits. NBC News reported:

Rep. John Katko ... said Friday that he will not seek re-election.... Trump celebrated Katko's announcement in a statement, saying, "Great news, another one bites the dust."

The former president's specific phrasing was of interest. When Trump was impeached for a second time, 10 House Republicans voted in the majority. He set out to end their careers — not because they'd done anything wrong, but because they'd voted to hold Trump accountable for his wrongdoing.

The campaign against the Impeachment 10 has had some effect. In September, for example, Ohio's Anthony Gonzales announced his retirement, adding at the time that the former president is "a cancer for the country." Trump boasted in a written statement, "1 down, 9 to go!"

A month later, when Illinois' Adam Kinzinger said he, too, would not seek re-election, the former president celebrated again, saying, "2 down, 8 to go!"

Katko is the third member of the group to head for the exits, and the list may yet grow: Michigan's Fred Upton said late last week that he's undecided about running again in the fall.

As for the rest of the contingent — Washington's Jaime Herrera Beutler, Wyoming's Liz Cheney, Michigan's Peter Meijer, Washington's Dan Newhouse, South Carolina's Tom Rice, and California's David Valadao — each appear to be running for re-election this year.

That said, each are also facing credible primary challengers who are eager to participate in Trump's crusade against the apostates.