It would be an exaggeration to say Rep. Fred Upton is a moderate centrist who’s wildly out of step with his conservative House GOP colleagues. That said, after more than three decades on Capitol Hill, the Michigan Republican has earned a reputation as a constructive lawmaker known for striking compromises.
It’s why Upton’s retirement announcement yesterday gave Congress a jolt: It meant the already far-right House GOP conference will soon have even fewer members interested in responsible governance.
The Michigan Republican told reporters that redistricting was a key factor in his decision. “My district was cut like Zorro — three different ways,” Upton said.
But there was one vote in particular that loomed large: Upton was one of the 10 House Republicans who voted to impeach Donald Trump last year after the former president instigated the Jan. 6 attack on the U.S. Capitol. Ever since, Trump has been determined to destroy the contingent that voted to hold him responsible for his actions, and as NBC News noted, the former president celebrated Upton’s decision not to run for another term.
The former president took a victory lap just moments after Upton announced his retirement. “UPTON QUITS! 4 down and 6 to go. Others losing badly, who’s next?” Trump said in a statement.
The “4 down” reference pointed to the four House Republicans who decided to retire after having voted with the majority on Trump’s second impeachment: Ohio’s Anthony Gonzalez, New York’s John Katko, Illinois’ Adam Kinzinger, and as of yesterday, Upton.
As for the “who’s next” question, these are the other six members of the GOP’s Impeachment 10 (in alphabetical order):
- Washington’s Jaime Herrera Beutler is running for re-election in a district in which her local Republican Party formally censured her for holding Trump accountable. She’s facing a primary challenger who’s received the former president’s endorsement.
- Wyoming’s Liz Cheney has been formally rejected by the Republican National Committee, and her House Republican colleagues have endorsed — and extended financial support to — her GOP primary rival.
- Michigan’s Rep. Peter Meijer is facing multiple primary challengers, one of whom has received Trump’s backing. The former president held a rally this past weekend in which he mocked the congressman over the spelling of his name.
- Washington’s Dan Newhouse is facing multiple primary challengers, one of whom has received Trump’s backing.
- South Carolina’s Tom Rice is facing multiple primary challengers, one of whom has received Trump’s backing.
- California’s David Valadao, whose district supported President Joe Biden in 2020, is not only facing a Republican rival, he’s also found that his district’s lines have been redrawn in ways that will make it more difficult to win another term.
It is quite possible that of the House Republicans’ Impeachment 10, none of these members will be on Capitol Hill in the new year. Watch this space.