And Then There Were 9: The Road Ahead for Pro-Impeachment House Republicans


WASHINGTON — When Rep. Anthony Gonzalez of Ohio looked into his political future, he saw a brutal primary contest against a Trump-backed opponent for the chance to return to a Trump-dominated House Republican caucus.

Gonzalez’s anguished announcement Thursday that he would not seek a third term leaves just nine House Republicans who still appear set to fight to retain their seats in Congress after having voted to impeach former President Donald Trump following the Jan. 6 attack on the Capitol.

Each faces similarly treacherous political terrain: Trump’s vows for vengeance against the Republicans who crossed him, primary opponents endorsed or at least inspired and elevated by him, and even threats of violence from voters outraged by the lawmakers’ perceived disloyalty to the former president.

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“1 down, 9 to go!” Trump crowed Friday.

Here is a look at where the nine other representatives stand:

The Defiant Never-Trumpers

Liz Cheney of Wyoming

The most vocal House Republican to vote to impeach Trump, Cheney has borne the brunt of the former president’s wrath. Last week, in an attempt to narrow a crowded field, Trump endorsed Harriet Hageman, a former Republican National Committee member and a 2018 candidate for governor in Wyoming, in the primary against Cheney.

Former Trump aides have rushed to Hageman’s side to prop up her nascent campaign and persuade other candidates to drop out of the race. Cheney has remained unwavering in her criticism of Trump, describing his unwillingness to accept the results of the 2020 election as a threat to democracy and defiantly daring Trump and his allies to “bring it on.”

“If Harriet wants to cast her lot with those folks,” Cheney told Wyoming reporters this month, “I would note that they’re the same people who were involved in misleading millions of Americans about the election in 2020.”

Adam Kinzinger of Illinois

None of the 10 pro-impeachment House Republicans have raised their profiles more than Kinzinger, a six-term conservative who represents an exurban and rural part of northern and central Illinois. He has created a political action committee and become a frequent anti-Trump presence on cable television and social media since the Capitol riot.

Kinzinger has not formally announced a 2022 reelection bid, and the Illinois Legislature, controlled by Democrats, is likely to redraw his district to make it more difficult for a Republican to win.

A half-dozen Republicans are vying to challenge him, including Catalina Lauf, a former Commerce Department official under Trump, who placed third in a Republican primary in a neighboring congressional district last year.

So far, Lauf has been endorsed by Rep. Madison Cawthorn of North Carolina, one of the leading purveyors of pro-Trump misinformation in Congress.

Peter Meijer of Michigan

Meijer, an heir to a major grocery store chain and an Army veteran of the Iraq War, was in his second week in Congress when he voted to impeach Trump. Since then, he has consistently warned of the dangers of parroting the lie of a stolen election.

He has also been blunt about the threats he and others, like Gonzalez, have faced for staking out that position. At an event this summer, he said, a woman told him that he would shortly be arrested for treason and hauled before a military tribunal, presumably to be shot.

Trump has yet to endorse a primary challenger to Meijer. He is a formidable incumbent: Although the former president narrowly carried the West Michigan district, Meijer outperformed Trump. And the district’s voters are known for an independent streak, having previously elected Justin Amash, the Republican-turned-Libertarian.

The Centrist Stalwarts

John Katko of New York

Katko’s moderate brand of politics has returned him to Washington for four terms despite his seat’s perennial status as a top Democratic target, and he has said he is running again in 2022.

In 2022, his real threat may come from the right. Trump has yet to endorse a primary challenger, but he wrote to New York Republican leaders in June of his eagerness to do so, vowing “Katko will never win again.”

Far from backing down, Katko on Wednesday told The Syracuse Post-Standard that Trump should not be the leader of the Republican Party. “It would have been a lot easier if I didn’t vote on the impeachment vote, but I did it because it was the right thing to do,” he said.

The top Republican on the Homeland Security Committee, Katko labored this year to negotiate with Democrats on the makeup and scope of a bipartisan commission to investigate the Jan. 6 attack. But Rep. Kevin McCarthy of California, the Republican leader, rejected a compromise endorsed by Katko because it would not have examined unrelated “political violence” associated with the left.

Fred Upton of Michigan

A fixture in his southwest Michigan district, Upton is in his 18th congressional term, though in recent years, his margin of victory has shrunk with each election. Now, if he seeks reelection in 2022, he will face off against a primary challenger endorsed by Trump: Steve Carra, a first-term state representative who has led the push at the State Capitol for a review of the 2020 election results.

A spokesperson said Upton would follow his practice of announcing his decision in the year of the election.

For years, Upton, a longtime friend of President Joe Biden’s, has prided himself on his willingness to work across the aisle. Upton announced that he would vote for impeachment after Trump described his language at the Jan. 6 rally outside the Capitol as “totally appropriate.”

The Dissidents Who Went to Ground

Jaime Herrera Beutler of Washington

Herrera Beutler took a bizarre star turn during Trump’s second impeachment proceedings after she divulged that McCarthy, the House Republican leader, had told her that Trump had sided with the mob on a phone call with McCarthy while the Capitol riot unfolded.

Since then, Herrera Beutler has stayed mostly silent about her role in the proceedings and her vote to impeach Trump. A campaign spokesperson confirmed that she plans to run for reelection.

She faces what could prove a tough challenge from a primary opponent Trump has endorsed: Joe Kent, a former Army Special Forces officer. Kent’s wife, Shannon Kent, a chief petty officer in the Navy who worked closely with the National Security Agency, was killed by a suicide bomber in 2019 while on a counterterrorism mission in Syria. Kent plans to speak at a rally in Washington on Saturday in support of defendants charged in connection with the Capitol assault.

Dan Newhouse of Washington

Newhouse represents a safe Republican district in central Washington; Trump carried it by 18 percentage points. Yet Washington state’s open-primary system, in which the top two candidates from any party advance to the general election, allow both him and Herrera Beutler to appeal to a broader electorate than some of their Republican peers from other states.

Newhouse is campaigning for reelection as if the impeachment vote never happened, betting that voters will reward him for his attention to the wildfires that have ravaged the Pacific Northwest this summer and for securing federal funding for police departments.

The best-known of his announced Republican opponents is Loren Culp, the former chief of a one-man police department who was the GOP nominee last year against Gov. Jay Inslee. Culp lost by more than a half-million votes, then declined to concede and falsely claimed that fraud had cost him the election.

David Valadao of California

Valadao’s district in the San Joaquin Valley is somewhat difficult to characterize politically, given his performance in it: He sailed to victories in 2012 and 2016 even though Democratic presidential candidates won the district by double-digit margins. In 2018, amid a Democratic wave election, he lost by less than 1,000 votes. He recaptured his seat last year even as Biden ran up an 11-point margin in the district.

What is clearer is that Valadao’s survival in such a skittish district is seen as important to Republican efforts to recapture the House. That may explain why, despite his impeachment vote, McCarthy, now a vociferous Trump ally, has been helping Valadao raise money.

For his part, Valadao has been a reliable Republican vote in the House since his support for impeachment and has said very little about it in the intervening months, aside from voting for Katko’s doomed Jan. 6 commission.

But he has expressed some solidarity with other pro-impeachment Republicans: He appeared at a fundraiser for Newhouse and donated to eight others — all except Cheney, whose PAC donated $5,000 to Valadao.

So far, he faces only weak opposition: His leading primary challenger lost a Republican primary for Congress in New Mexico last year.

Reached by phone Friday, Valadao showed no interest in discussing his relationship with the former president. “I have a comms director,” he said. “Have a nice day. Goodbye.”

His communications director declined to respond to questions.

Tom Rice of South Carolina

None of the 10 Republican votes to impeach was as surprising as that of Rice, a conservative who had to that point never spoken out against Trump. It shocked his constituents in northeastern South Carolina and set off a land rush of a dozen Republicans aiming to unseat him.

Among them are a former Trump administration official and several candidates who declared that they would not have voted to certify Biden’s victory.

Rice’s case may present one of the purest tests yet of Trump’s hold on the party: There is no other issue in which he has broken with the former president or with Republican leadership. But his impeachment vote has been forgotten by no one: not his primary opponents, not the Trumpian party base and not Trump himself.

“What do you call somebody who votes with Trump 99% of the time?” Rice joked in a June interview with The Washington Post. “A traitor.”

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