The fallout from the House Republican votes to impeach then-president Donald Trump after the Jan. 6 Capitol insurrection is now fully known following a late Monday night midterm election result in California.
Republican David Valadao defeated Rudy Salas in a Central Valley district in which Democrats held a staggering 17-point voter registration edge. Republicans will hold at least 219 House seats when the next session of Congress begins in January, with Democrats to hold at least 212. Counting is not yet finished in a handful of other undecided races.
In the first Trump impeachment over strong-arming Ukraine over military aid, no House Republican members voted to impeach.
But Valadao was one of 10 House Republicans who voted to impeach Trump after the Capitol riot in early 2021. Here’s a closer look at what happened next for them:
Valadao backed Trump’s re-election in 2020 but called him the driving force in the insurrection.
Trump’s “inciting rhetoric was un-American, abhorrent and absolutely an impeachable offence,” Valadao said.
Of all the representatives to cross Trump, Valadao likely received the least pushback from the former president. A dairy farmer and son of Portuguese immigrants, he had the state party endorsement and the backing of House Republican leader Kevin McCarthy, who represents a nearby California district. McCarthy is considered close to Trump, who didn’t really engage in the race publicly.
Dan Newhouse, meanwhile, returns to represent Washington’s 4th district, even after voting to impeach.
“He did not strongly condemn the attack nor did he call in reinforcements when our officers were overwhelmed,” Newhouse said in a January 2021 statement on his vote to impeach. “Our country needed a leader, and President Trump failed to fulfil his oath of office.”
Newhouse had several advantages, having served four terms in a district where voters haven’t favoured a Democratic presidential candidate since 1964 or a Democratic House member since 1992. He also has conservative credentials to spare despite the Trump vote, consistently received A ratings from the National Rifle Association and the Susan B. Anthony List, a leading anti-abortion organization.
Newhouse got over 35,000 votes in the district’s nonpartisan primary setup, with three other Republicans led by Trump-endorsed Loren Culp amassing 60,000 votes between them. Had those Republican votes coalesced under just one or even two Republican candidates, Newhouse may not have been as fortunate.
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Newhouse’s family operates an 850-acre farm in the area, which grows hops for local breweries and grapes for local wineries.
“Newhouse had a lot more credibility in the agriculture community,” Cornell Clayton, head of the Thomas S. Foley Institute at Washington State University, told The Associated Press in August. “And Culp [a former police officer] just doesn’t.”
‘Thanks, Donald Trump’
Peter Meijer was blasted by Trump after his impeachment vote. Meijer would be defeated in his Michigan district by fellow Republican John Gibbs in an August primary but was unbowed.
“I would rather lose office with my character intact than stay re-elected having made sacrifices of the soul,” Meijer told an interviewer at the time.
Unfortunately for Republicans, Gibbs was beaten handily by Democrat Hilary Schoelten earlier this month in the 3rd district midterm result, prompting the conservative National Review headline: “Peter Meijer’s Congressional Seat Is Now in Democratic Hands. Thanks, Donald Trump.”
A similar scenario played out in Washington’s 3rd district, where Republican Jaime Herrera Beutler was just 67 votes shy of qualifying for the November midterms. She was edged by Republican Joe Kent, who lost this month to Democrat Marie Gluesenkamp in the midterm.
Throwing Meijer and Herrera Beutler overboard may have reduced the Republicans’ margin in the House by two seats.
Cowardly or brave?
Tom Rice stuck his neck out, voting to impeach while representing South Carolina’s 7th district, arguably the most staunchly Republican district out of the 10.
Rice insisted he was upholding conservative values by voting to impeach Trump.
“Defending the Constitution is a bedrock of the Republican platform and that’s what I did. That was the conservative vote,” he told ABC News in June.
Rice was branded by Trump as a “coward who abandoned his constituents by caving to Nancy Pelosi and the Radical Left” — and was then shellacked by Russell Fry in the Republican primary. Fry easily beat his Democratic opponent this month.
The Jan. 6 committee members
Within days of voting to impeach, John Katko from New York, Anthony Gonzalez of Ohio and Adam Kinzinger of Illinois announced they would not run again, with Fred Upton in Michigan eventually doing the same after his state rejigged its districts.
Kinzinger and Liz Cheney would build off their impeachment votes by agreeing to participate in the House Select Committee established to investigate the events surrounding the Jan. 6 attack.
Cheney, however, would pay dearly in the Republican primary in Wyoming, losing to Harriet Hageman. The Trump-endorsed Hageman then won the midterm vote.
It’s unclear what specifically Kinzinger and Cheney will do after this session of Congress ends, though Cheney has vowed to do “whatever it takes” to ensure Trump doesn’t become president again.
To sum up: four Republicans opted to retire, four were defeated in the primaries earlier this year, and two will continue to serve in the House despite rankling Trump. As a party, the Republicans hold seven of the nine seats still in the same districts; longtime Democratic congresswoman Debbie Dingell won in the newly reconfigured district that Upton could have conceivably contested.
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The Senate: to be determined
In 2021, Utah’s Mitt Romney became the first senator to vote to convict a president of his own party. Romney believed Trump should be convicted of abuse of power in the Ukraine affair, in contrast to his Republican colleagues in that Senate trial.
Romney then joined Susan Collins of Maine and Bill Cassidy of Louisiana in voting that Trump incited an insurrection in the Senate impeachment trial concerning the Capitol riot. With Senate members serving six-year terms and not the two-year stanzas of House members, that trio won’t face voters until 2026 should they even choose to run again.
Republicans Richard Burr, Ben Sasse and Pat Toomey each chose to retire after voting to impeach.
Toomey’s departure led to a crucial Democratic pickup in Pennsylvania this month (John Fetterman), while on Wednesday, Alaska election officials are expected to confirm that Republican incumbent Lisa Murkowski — who voted to impeach — prevailed in the midterm over Trump-backed Republican Kelly Tshibaka.