SC lawmaker who voted to impeach Trump loses House seat after faltering in GOP primary
Published 12:00 am Wednesday, June 15, 2022
By MEG KINNARD
CHARLESTON, S.C. — U.S. Rep. Tom Rice of South Carolina has been ousted from Congress in his Republican primary after voting to impeach Donald Trump over the Jan. 6 insurrection. He is the first of the 10 House Republicans who voted to impeach Trump to lose a reelection bid.
Rice, a five-term congressman, was defeated Tuesday by state Rep. Russell Fry, who was endorsed by Trump. Rice was a strong supporter of Trump’s policies in Washington but said he was left no choice but to impeach Trump over his failure to calm the mob that violently sought to stop the certification of Joe Biden’s victory.
U.S. Rep. Nancy Mace, another South Carolina Republican who angered Trump, won her GOP primary over her Trump-backed challenger.
In other races Tuesday, Democratic Rep. Dina Titus in Nevada was being opposed by a progressive, while Republican Rep. Mark Amodei drew a challenge from a son of one of the state’s most famous sports figures. In Maine, a former Republican congressman is hoping to reclaim his seat in November in a rematch with the Democrat who defeated him two years ago.
In Texas, Republican Mayra Flores narrowed Nancy Pelosi’s Democratic majority in the House by winning a special primary election to serve the remaining months of former Democratic Rep. Filemon Vela’s term.
Key congressional races to follow in Tuesday’s primary elections in Maine, Nevada, North Dakota, South Carolina and Texas:
TWO SOUTH CAROLINA REPUBLICANS WHO CROSSED TRUMP HAVE DIFFERENT FATES
Rep. Tom Rice attracted a half-dozen GOP challengers after his vote to impeach Trump. All had cited the vote as a mark of disloyalty to both the former president and Rice’s constituents in the 7th Congressional District, a Republican stronghold that which heavily supported Trump in his two campaigns. Trump endorsed state Rep. Russell Fry in the race.
Rice, an otherwise consistent supporter of Trump’s policies, stood by his vote, acknowledging it could lead to his ouster but saying he followed his conscience.
Trump had vowed revenge against the 10 House Republicans who crossed party lines to impeach him. Four of the 10 decided against seeking reelection. A fifth, Rep. David Valadao of California, is still waiting to hear the results of his primary election from last week; he is fighting for the second spot in a race where the top two finishers advance to the general election in November.
Trump had campaigned with Fry earlier this year and described Rice as “respected by no one.” Rice conceded to Fry on Tuesday night, Rice’s campaign said.
The 7th Congressional District is strongly Republican and likely to remain in the party’s hands this fall. The district includes the tourist hotspot of Myrtle Beach and a number of inland, rural areas.
U.S. Rep. Nancy Mace, on the other hand, managed to hold off a primary challenge from former state Rep. Katie Arrington, who was recruited by Trump. Arrington also sought the 1st Congressional District seat in 2018, ousting then-U.S. Rep. Mark Sanford in a GOP primary before going on to lose to Joe Cunningham in Democrat’s first red-blue seat flip in South Carolina in decades.
Mace won the seat back for Republicans in 2020 with Trump’s help. But the former president turned against her in part due to Mace’s criticism of his role in the Capitol violence. She also infuriated Trump by voting to certify Biden’s win in the 2020 election and to hold Steve Bannon in contempt of Congress for defying a subpoena from the committee investigating the Capitol insurrection.
But unlike Rice, Mace sought to make amends for angering Trump. Earlier this year, she filmed a video in New York outside Trump Tower to remind her constituents that she was one of the former president’s “earliest supporters.” She had worked for his 2016 campaign and had his backing in her 2020 run.
Mace will face Democrat Annie Andrews in the November general election.
PRIMARY CHALLENGE IN NEVADA’S SAFEST GOP HOUSE SEAT
Rep. Mark Amodei is facing a primary challenge from a perennial candidate with a famous last name.
Danny Tarkanian, son of legendary University of Nevada, Las Vegas basketball coach Jerry Tarkanian, is trying to knock off the six-term incumbent in the sprawling, rural northern district that no Democrat has won in its 40 years.
Over the years, Tarkanian has launched two Senate campaigns and lost numerous congressional bids in two other districts. But he created enough of a stir in 2018 in a primary challenge to Sen. Dean Heller that Trump intervened to persuade him to drop out and run again for the House.
Amodei won a special election for the seat in 2011 after Heller was appointed to fill an unexpired Senate term. A member of the House Appropriations Committee, Amodei has easily turned back previous primary challenges in the past.
NEVADA DEMOCRAT FACES PRIMARY IN STATE’S BLUEST DISTRICT
Democratic Rep. Dina Titus, the dean of Nevada’s congressional delegation, is facing a progressive challenge from Amy Vilela in the state’s most liberal district.
Vilela, who lost a primary bid in a neighboring district to Rep. Steven Horsford in 2018, was the Nevada co-chair of Bernie Sanders’ 2020 presidential campaign. She has been endorsed by Sanders and Rep. Cori Bush of Missouri, a progressive activist who scored a primary upset in 2020 against a 20-year Democratic incumbent.
Titus was a leading advocate for Biden during his 2020 presidential campaign. She has served six House terms and chairs a transportation subcommittee.
With one of the most liberal voting records in Congress, Titus has steamrolled her way through primary opponents over the years. But she has complained about how Nevada redrew its congressional districts after the 2020 census, turning her safely Democratic district into one where the party’s registered voters have only a single-digit margin.
FORMER MAINE CONGRESSMAN FACES REMATCH FROM 2020 IN NOVEMBER
A former congressman who is bidding to return to his old seat in Maine held off a challenge from a fellow Republican.
Bruce Poliquin represented Maine’s 2nd Congressional District from 2015 to 2019 until losing to the current seat holder, Democratic Rep. Jared Golden. Golden’s victory over Poliquin was the first congressional election decided by ranked-choice voting in U.S. history.
This year, Poliquin is hoping to win a rematch over Golden in one of the most closely watched races of the 2022 midterm elections. He staved off a challenge from Liz Caruso, the first selectwoman of the tiny town of Caratunk, in Tuesday’s primary.
REPUBLICANS GAIN SEAT IN CONGRESS AFTER FLIPPING TEXAS SEAT
Republicans have gained an additional House seat for the rest of the year in a special election victory that they see as a sign of things to come along Texas’ heavily Hispanic southern border.
Republican Mayra Flores will finish the final months of former Democratic Rep. Filemon Vela’s term. He left Congress earlier this year for the private sector.
Her victory Tuesday over three other challengers — including two Democrats — is a symbolically important win for Republicans, who have spent the past two years aggressively trying to make new inroads with Hispanic voters in South Texas.
Flores is the daughter of migrant workers and a local GOP organizer. She will also be the GOP nominee for the seat in November, but that election will be under a new district map that is more favorable to Democrats.
Her opponent will be current Democratic Rep. Vicente Gonzalez, who moved from a neighboring district because of redistricting.
Associated Press writers Scott Sonner in Reno, Nev., Paul Weber in Austin, Texas, and Patrick Whittle in Portland, Maine, contributed to this report.
Meg Kinnard can be reached at http://twitter.com/MegKinnardAP.
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