Two years after 10 House Republicans broke with their party and voted to impeach President Donald Trump over the Jan. 6 insurrection, only two will remain in Congress come 2023.
Rep. Dan Newhouse (Wash.) and Rep. David Valadao (Calif.) have won reelection. Four other members of the group — including notable Trump critics like Rep. Liz Cheney (R-Wyo.) — previously lost primary battles to Trump-backed challengers, and the other four decided not to even try to keep their jobs. Trump repeatedly threatened this bloc, saying that opposing his incitement of an attack on the U.S. Capitol meant the lawmakers had abandoned conservative values.
The shift shows how firm Trump’s grip on the GOP has become. The primary candidates who defeated Reps. Cheney, Peter Meijer (R-Mich.), Jaime Herrera Beutler (R-Wash.) and Tom Rice (R-S.C.) emphasized their personal loyalty to Trump and their rivals’ alleged betrayal of him.
Newhouse faced six Republican challengers in his deep-red district in eastern Washington state — splintering the ardently pro-Trump vote and helping him eke out a narrow win in the GOP primary. He then campaigned with an ultraconservative message that often echoed Trump’s talking points on immigration. Newhouse downplayed his impeachment vote and emphasized his background in the agriculture industry, a major force in his rural district. Ultimately, he managed to best Democratic candidate Doug White.
Meanwhile, Valadao was the only member of the group who did not face a Trump-backed primary challenger, reportedly thanks to an intervention by House Republican Leader Kevin McCarthy (Calif.). Running in a competitive central California district that he only narrowly won in 2020, Valadao criticized Democrats’ economic policies and said he would not support Trump as the 2024 Republican presidential nominee.
Asked if he stood by his impeachment vote, he recently told a local ABC affiliate: “I see no evidence to change anything.”
Pro-Democratic groups saw an opportunity. They attacked Valadao as a hard-liner on reproductive rights, highlighting his sponsorship of legislation to bar abortion without exceptions, and tried to discourage Republicans from supporting him. Redistricting in California had also made the seat more blue, boosting the hopes of Valadao’s Democratic opponent Rudy Salas.
The midterm election results mean that the entire House GOP conference is now overwhelmingly tied to Trump — just like most Republicans in the Senate. Seven Republican senators also voted to convict the former president for his role in the deadly Jan. 6 attack, but only one of them, Sen. Lisa Murkowski (R-Alaska), was up for reelection and chose to seek another term.