The success of the main Trump-inspired challengers is far from clear. Dismissing an incumbent is notoriously difficult, and Republican leaders should act aggressively to protect their members. But the initial activity illustrates the extent to which Trump’s staunch allies are determined to make his critics pay the price.
“The position Liz took was very controversial here in Wyoming,” said Republican Bryan Miller, a retired Air Force officer who is expected to run against Republican Liz Cheney, a GOP leader from the House which strongly supported the impeachment of Trump. “It won’t be a passing thing that goes away. It is growing and growing and growing every day all over the state. People are unhappy. “
Miller is not alone. Cheney drew opposition from several other Republicans, including Senator Anthony Bouchard, who called Cheney “out of reachFor his criticism of the former president.
Newly elected Representative Peter Meijer of Michigan, another proponent of impeachment, is challenged by Afghanistan war veteran Tom Norton, who has appeared on the podcast of former Trump adviser Steve Bannon to promote his candidacy. Gene Koprowski, a former head of the Heartland Institute think tank, is already running against Illinois Representative Adam Kinzinger. In Ohio, former state representative Christina Hagan isn’t ruling out a primary bid against Republican Anthony Gonzalez.
“I have never seen so much backlash for a single vote taken by a single member of our Republican congressional delegation in Ohio,” said Hagan, who lost a primary to Gonzalez when the seat was opened in 2018 “I have heard from Republicans in positions of power, within the party leadership and across the spectrum, loyal volunteers and business leaders across the region who express serious frustration and disgust.
Pro-Trump donors are joining the assault. Suzie Burke, a Seattle real estate executive who helped Rep Jaime Herrera Beutler (R-Wash.) In the years leading up to the MP’s impeachment vote, said she “wouldn’t help people who chose to rush to appease the other side. of the aisle. “
Hossein Khorram, a former Washington state-based Trump finance committee official who donated more than $ 100,000 to pro-Trump causes during the election, said he was also turning off the tap.
“I personally know the members of Congress in Washington State who voted to impeach Trump. Our friendship will continue but no more financial support from me. In my opinion, they just retired from Congress, ”said Khorram, a real estate developer who once gave Representative Dan Newhouse, another Republican in the state who supported impeachment.
External groups with deep pockets are also getting involved. Chris Ekstrom, chairman of the Courageous Tories Political Action Committee, said his organization will focus on defeating Cheney, Gonzalez and South Carolina Representative Tom Rice.
“All are vulnerable. Some things stay in politics and I think this outrageous betrayal will be, ”Ekstrom said. “Examples will be made.”
Ekstrom, an investor from Dallas, said he was starting to contact Texas-based Trump donors to raise funds for the effort.
People close to Trump say he is particularly obsessed with Republicans who supported impeachment and is determined to take them out. The former president has raised over $ 200 million since the election, much of which was directed to a new committee that could be used to support key opponents. Trump’s aides also worked to create a political apparatus that could be deployed in the 2022 election.
As Trump left the White House, the Republican still faces a conundrum: how to appease his tens of millions of supporters, many of whom remain convinced the election was stolen and insist Trump is not to blame for the January 6 riot. . Party officials admit they must keep Trump loyalists in the fold and say failure to do so will complicate their political fortunes in 2022 and beyond.
With the Senate impeachment trial looming, attention is turning to Republican lawmakers in this chamber who must decide whether to vote to condemn Trump. Several incumbents face potentially difficult general elections, and their prospects could be further complicated by primary fights. Trump has previously said he wants to oust Republican Red State Senators Lisa Murkowski (Alaska) and John Thune (SD) for failing to back his drive to overturn the election results.
But some Republicans say the political fallout for impeachment supporters will be short-lived. They insist that among GOP voters there has been widespread revulsion over Trump’s role in the uprising and say many are in favor of impeachment.
Rice, a five-term South Carolina congressman from the conservative northeastern part of the state, said most people he heard expressed disapproval of his vote. But he said he had also received positive feedback from hundreds of people across the country, including some who offered contributions to the campaign.
“There are a number of people who have clearly expressed their discontent and others who are happy with a vote in principle. I did not take an oath to Donald Trump, I did not take an oath to the Republican Party, I took an oath to defend the Constitution. This is what I intend to do, ”Rice said.
Trump’s forces will face great obstacles in defeating one of the pro-impeachment Republicans. Cheney, the Republican 3rd Chamber, raised nearly $ 3 million in the 2020 election cycle and is certain to have a significant campaign account in 2022. Cheney is also a well-known commodity in the state: she is the daughter of former vice president and former Wyoming congressman Dick Cheney.
The rush to face Cheney can make it more difficult for him to defeat – a trend that can be seen in other districts as well. With multiple candidates in the running, the main challengers face the prospect of breaking down their support and giving the three-term MP an easy path to victory.
To complicate matters, the redistribution, the once-a-decade tracing of the lines of Congress that will determine where House candidates run for election. Hagan said she was awaiting clarification on how the Ohio map would be reconfigured.
But even at this early stage in the midterm election cycle, the impeachment vote looms large in the minds of Republicans.
Rice said he didn’t want to give senators advice on how they should vote in Trump’s next trial. But he noted that the Capitol seat had put the lives of lawmakers at risk, many of whom had been loyal to the president. The congressman recalled taking refuge in a safer room, not knowing if anyone outside had a gun. All the while, Rice said, Trump was doing nothing to quell the violence.
“If these aren’t serious felonies and misdemeanors, I don’t know what they are,” Rice said. “I don’t know what it would take.”