Trump’s impeachment vote hampers South Carolina House Republican’s re-election bid

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Former President Donald Trump casts a shadow over South Carolina’s Republican primary.

The GOP nomination race in South Carolina’s 7th congressional district, which spans the northeast portion of the state inland from Myrtle Beach, is only competitive in because of Rep. Tom Rice’s pro-impeachment vote in the second Democratic-led effort to oust Trump from the presidency and bar him from holding public office again. Rice was among 10 House Republicans to vote to impeach Trump for the then-president’s actions — or inactions, critics say — during the Jan. 6 Capitol riots that sought to halt the College’s recount. campaign that made Joe Biden the next president.

Still, while Rice supporting Trump’s impeachment may hurt him with some Republicans, it may help him with any Democrats willing to vote for him in the June 14 primary. This could lead to a second round on June 28 if no candidate wins a majority. of the vote.

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Rice’s impeachment vote led Trump to endorse a Republican contender in the 7th Congressional District, State Rep. Russell Fry. And now Rice, first elected to the House in 2012, faces headwinds exacerbated by Trump himself at a recent 7th District rally, according to Coastal Carolina University professor Drew Kurlowski.

“He’s trying to say all the right things that allow him to distance himself from Trump’s actions without distancing himself from being a conservative,” Kurlowski told the Washington Examiner.

More than a year after Trump’s second House impeachment, Rice was pressed to vote this month in a five-way primary debate, providing a lengthy and prepared response. Rice, whose voting record in addition to impeachment was mostly pro-Trump, recalled the Capitol stage Jan. 6.

“I saw the deminers defusing bombs. I smelled the tear gas. I was on the floor of the house when the window broke, when they tried to break down the doors,” Rice said. “My opinion is that our Constitution is too precious to risk.”

Rice added: “The only difference between me and all these leaders in Washington who said, ‘Oh, Donald Trump has gone too far. He should be impeached. He should be returned, “then voted the other way? I took the principled stand, and I defended our Constitution.”

Polls point to Rice’s vulnerability, despite historical trends indicating that incumbent renomination defeats are rare. Charles Bierbauer, a former CNN reporter and retired dean of the University of South Carolina’s College of Information and Communications, agreed: “Rice is the only person to hold this seat since its inception. hard.”

Kurlowski described the current Republican factionalism displayed in the 7th congressional district as “incredibly rare,” with most primaries being decided by personality rather than politics.

“But Trump is a mighty, powerful figure in some of these red light districts, and it will be interesting, an interesting test, to see if he still dominates,” Kurlowski said. “The real fault line is generally support for or against Trump. It’s your perception of what happened on January 6.”

For Kurlowski, however, the solidly Republican voter base in the 7th District simultaneously creates an opportunity for Rice if he can persuade enough Democrats to back a more centrist candidate by voting in his primary instead. In particular, Francis Marion University political science chair David White cited Rice’s outreach to black voters. Rice’s congressional team sent at least one pamphlet with a photo of him and House Majority Whip Jim Clyburn honoring South Carolina’s first post-Reconstruction black senator, according to the professor.

“There was nothing written overtly,” White said.

“But it was interesting that it was there,” White added. “This effort is made.

South Carolina Democratic Party Chairman Trav Robertson was coy when asked about Kurlowski and White’s hypothesis. “Fry did his best to capitalize” on the district’s Tea Party-to-Trump voting pattern, according to Robertson.

“Rice represents the old brand of southern republicanism that was more attuned to the business needs of the rapidly growing coastal communities in the 7th Arrondissement,” he said. “The question that comes to mind: Could Rice have cast his votes as a representation of good American business and patriotic duty, and could Fry have cast him as a traitor to the Trump cause?”

To that end, Fry expanded his closing argument to include accusations that Rice enriched himself as a congressman.

“Tom Rice voted for federal budgets that paid his company $500,000,” an ad claims. “Then, as the nation shut down from COVID, Tom Rice dumped his family stocks. According to government watchdogs, Tom’s personal net worth grew by $10 million during his tenure. He was even sued by the FBI. Tom Rice, we can ‘I don’t trust him.’

Besides the national discourse, Kurlowski is aware of a local corner issue: Interstate Highway 73. Rice is a supporter of a longtime proposal to expand North Carolina’s Interstate 73.

“There’s a bit of a disagreement among Republicans about whether this is a good thing or not, whether or not we should introduce this route,” Kurlowski said.

One such naysayer is Ken Richardson, chairman of the South Carolina school board and a former car salesman who mostly self-funds his campaign. Regardless of Richardson’s wealth, Rice topped his and Fry’s fundraising, revealing to the Federal Election Commission last fiscal quarter that he had close to $2 million in cash.

White downplayed I-73 as a significant problem. For him, Rice hopes the highway will be a distraction from impeachment. Rice also highlights his other accomplishments such as tax reform, serving on the Ways and Means Committee, and providing federal disaster relief.

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“I wish I had a crystal ball,” White said. “Tom Rice is trying, his goal is to get over 50%, and I think the conventional wisdom is that if he doesn’t get 50%, it’s going to be hard for him to get re-elected in the second round two more weeks. late.”

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