Support The Bulwark and subscribe today.
  Join Now

The Fate of Pro-Impeachment House Republicans

Non-traditional primaries are the key to survival.
August 3, 2022
The Fate of Pro-Impeachment House Republicans
WASHINGTON, DC - FEB 10: The West Front of the U.S. Capitol is seen in the early morning February 10, 2021 in Washington, DC. House managers and the defense will make opening arguments today as the Senate impeachment trial of former President Donald J. Trump continues. (Photo by Sarah Silbiger/Getty Images)

Of the 10 House Republicans who voted to impeach former President Donald Trump after the attack on the U.S. Capitol on January 6th, only those who went on to compete in non-traditional Republican primaries have, so far, fended off Trump-backed rivals.

On Tuesday, three pro-impeachment Republicans: Peter Meijer of Michigan and Jaime Herrera Beutler and Dan Newhouse of Washington were on the ballot. Meijer was defeated by a Trump-backed rival, John Gibbs. And, at the time of this writing, Herrera Beutler and Newhouse, appear to be headed to a general election for their races.

The difference? Washington is a state that has an open, non-partisan system that allows the top two finishers in each contest to compete against each other in the general election. This is the model, known as a “jungle primary,” that also facilitated pro-impeachment California Republican David Valadao’s advancement to a general election.

Those three–Herrera Beutler, Newhouse, and Valadao–are the only pro-impeachment Republicans, to date, to survive their primaries.

Three others self-selected out of their races. John Katko of New York, Anthony Gonzales of Ohio, and Fred Upton of Michigan chose to retire in the face of MAGA backlash for their vote.

Democrats in Illinois essentially drew Adam Kinzinger out of his district, and at this time, he is not seeking another office. And, Tom Rice of South Carolina lost his primary to a Trump-backed rival in June.

The final primary contest for pro-impeachment House Republicans will be on August 16th, when Liz Cheney faces off against the Trump-endorsed Harriet Hageman. Cheney will compete against Hageman in a traditional GOP primary. A recent Casper Star-Tribune poll shows Cheney trailing Hageman by 22 points.

August 16 will also be an important date for the only pro-impeachment Republican senator on the ballot in 2022: Alaska’s Lisa Murkowski. She has the good fortune of competing in another non-traditional primary, as Alaska holds an open primary and is using a ranked-choice voting system for the first time in 2022. She is widely expected to be competitive. Murkowski is a rarity among pro-impeachment Republicans; her approval rating has risen more than 22 percent since President Joe Biden took office.

Amanda Carpenter

Amanda Carpenter is an author, a former communications director to Sen. Ted Cruz, and a former speechwriter to Sen. Jim DeMint. She was formerly a Bulwark political columnist.