Eight of the ten House Republicans who backed Donald Trump’s second impeachment won’t be returning to Congress next year after losing their congressional primaries. Their departures – either forced by voters or through retirement – suggest that at this point Trump’s grip on the Republican Party has never been greater, and may even be growing, as he is seeking to run again in 2024.
In an internal vote last year, Cheney was removed from the conference leadership team even though she used to be the third-ranking Republican in the House. House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-California) declared at the time that “our leadership team cannot afford to be distracted from the important work for which we were elected.”
“We must be very clear-eyed about the threat we face and about what is required to defeat it. I have said since Jan. 6 that I will do whatever it takes to ensure Donald Trump is never again anywhere near the Oval Office. And I mean it,” Cheney stated, citing Abraham Lincoln, the first Republican president, as the inspiration for the fight against Trump. As part of her anti-Trump campaign, she is launching “The Great Task,” an organization inspired by Lincoln’s Gettysburg Address, reported Fox News.
But, a majority of Republicans are unimpressed with Cheney’s will to remove Trump. Indeed, it seems that so far the GOP does not have much room for openly anti-Trump candidates during the midterm election cycle. There are only two House members still running to retain their seats from the 10 who voted to impeach him after inciting a storming of the Capitol on Jan. 6, 2021. Four of them retired and four have lost to other candidates endorsed by Trump.
Carmichael, a longtime Republican political strategist, says if there is room for “Trump-skeptic” Republicans in the Republican Party, it will depend on the extent of their attacks on the former president. “Are they simply attacking the former president, and by extension, his supporters, or are they offering ideas of their own? Are they promoting results-oriented solutions that address the concerns of the American people, or are they dwelling on the past?” Carmichael stated.
In fact, Cheney is only the most recent pro-impeachment Republican candidate who lost her primary. Last week, Joe Kent, a Trump-backed candidate, defeated moderate Rep. Jaime Herrera Beutler (R-Wash.). In early 2021, Herrera Beutler learned that McCarthy called Trump on Jan 6. and assured him it was his own supporters trashing Capitol Hill, not Antifa.
Of the two pro-impeachment Republicans who survived this cycle, Rep. David Valadao, R-Calif. was not considered as a vocal critic of Trump which prevented Trump from endorsing his challenger, Chris Mathys, who tried to link the incumbent to Cheney and Rep. Adam Kinzinger, R-Ill. “I kept my head down. I focused on running my district,” Valadao was quoted as saying by Politico after his primary victory. Rep Dan Newhouse, R-Washington, is another Republican who voted for impeachment but managed to survive his primary. He has said something quite similar to Valadao.