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Some members of the GOP’s Impeachment 10 survived the backlash

Ten House Republicans voted to impeach Donald Trump after Jan. 6. Only two apparently managed to win re-election.


There are still a handful of congressional races that haven’t yet been called, though one U.S. House seat in California was of particular interest. The Los Angeles Times reported overnight:

Central Valley Republican Rep. David Valadao, whose vote to impeach President Trump nearly sank his campaign in the primary, will return to Congress next year after defeating Democratic state Assemblyman Rudy Salas. The Associated Press called the race Monday, though official results will take longer.

NBC News has not yet formally called the race in California’s 22nd district, though the AP has declared Valadao the winner, and the incumbent congressman declared victory last night.

If these results hold, as now appears likely, Valadao will be the second House Republican to win re-election after supporting Donald Trump’s impeachment earlier this year. The first was Washington Rep. Dan Newhouse, who won by a wider margin.

Circling back to our earlier coverage, when the outgoing president was impeached for his role in the Jan. 6 attack, it resulted in the most bipartisan impeachment vote in American history. Against a backdrop in which Republicans seemed eager to move on from their failed, defeated president, 10 GOP House members voted with the Democratic majority in favor of the impeachment resolution, and they had every reason to believe they’d be vindicated by history.

History, however, doesn’t elect members of Congress. Voters do.

As the defeated, scandal-plagued, failed president reclaimed control over the party, and “leaders” — I’m using the word loosely — such as Kevin McCarthy scurried to Mar-a-Lago to bend the knee, members of the Impeachment 10 came to realize that it didn’t matter that they were right. What mattered was that much of their radicalized political party wouldn’t tolerate their heresy, which would overshadow other parts of their careers in public service.

Some saw the direction in the prevailing winds and decided to avoid the indignity of defeat. It’s why four members of the contingent — Ohio’s Anthony Gonzalez, New York’s John Katko, Illinois’ Adam Kinzinger, and Michigan’s Fred Upton — announced their retirements before the primary season even began in earnest.

Four more thought they could maintain the trust of the voters who’d elected them in the first place:

  • In South Carolina, Rep. Tom Rice was crushed in a primary, losing by more than 26 points to a Republican primary rival who insisted that the 2020 election was “rigged.” (It was not rigged.)
  • In Michigan, Rep. Peter Meijer suffered a relatively narrow loss in a GOP primary to John Gibbs, perhaps best known for his “inflammatory, conspiratorial tweets.”
  • In the state of Washington, Rep. Jaime Herrera Beutler lost her primary race to Joe Kent, who, according to an Associated Press report, has “connections to right-wing extremists, including a campaign consultant who was a member of the Proud Boys.”
  • In Wyoming, Rep. Liz Cheney suffered a lopsided defeat to a Trump-backed lawyer who embraced the Big Lie.

It’s worth emphasizing for context that two of these four — Gibbs and Kent — ended up losing in the general election, allowing Democrats to flip the seats from “red” to “blue.”

If the Associated Press’ assessment is correct, Valadao narrowly escaped joining their club.

As for the seven Senate Republicans who voted to convict Trump in his second impeachment trial, two are retiring this year — North Carolina’s Richard Burr and Pennsylvania’s Pat Toomey — and four aren’t up for re-election this year. The other is Alaska’s Lisa Murkowski, who now appears likely to hold onto her seat, Trump’s condemnations notwithstanding.