Rep. Tom Rice (R-S.C.) speaks as the House of Representatives debates the articles of impeachment against President Donald Trump at the Capitol in Washington. | House Television/AP Photo
OPINION | This article contains opinion.
By Myah Ward
Politico.com- Rep. Tom Rice lost in his Republican primary against Trump-backed state Rep. Russell Fry in South Carolina on Tuesday, as the former president rallied voters against one of the few House Republicans who voted to impeach him last year.
Rice’s downfall comes 17 months after he joined a majority of the House — but only nine other Republicans — in charging former President Donald Trump with inciting the Capitol riot. It was a shocking vote from a congressman who had rarely criticized Trump beforehand. Since then, Rice has faced death threats, a censure from his state’s party and a long, rocky campaign.
The Rice-Fry matchup became a barometer of Trump’s clout, as he wages war against members of his own party who he deemed insufficiently loyal. Trump endorsed Fry in early February, consolidating a crowded field against Rice.
Rice, a five-term congressman, faced six challengers, all of whom ran against his impeachment vote as a sign of disloyalty to both Trump and Republican voters in his red, Trump-supporting district, which includes Myrtle Beach.
Other than his surprising impeachment vote against the president, Rice, 64, was a consistent supporter of Trump’s policies. But he defended that vote consistently as one that aligns with his oath to protect the Constitution. And Rice said he would “do it again tomorrow” if he was faced with the choice again.
His approach to the former president was notably different than that of fellow South Carolina GOP Rep. Nancy Mace, who has tried to play up her support for Trump despite his attempts to oust her as well.