August 17, 2022

Article at Grid News

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What Liz Cheney’s loss tells us about the lasting influence of Donald Trump

What Liz Cheney’s loss tells us about the lasting influence of Donald Trump
Guests attend a rally hosted by former President Donald Trump on April 2 near Washington, Michigan. His influence was felt again Tuesday when Rep. Liz Cheney of Wyoming lost in the Republican primary to a Trump-backed challenger.

Rep. Liz Cheney lost an uphill battle to retain Wyoming’s seat in the U.S. House in Tuesday’s Republican primary, becoming the seventh House Republican to fall to a Donald Trump-backed challenger since 2018.

House members ousted Cheney as their No. 3 last year after she called out Trump’s false statements about the 2020 presidential election and refused to soften her stance. She has taken on a key role in the committee investigating the Jan. 6 attacks, skewering the former president and his allies for their alleged roles in fomenting the rage that day.

“Two years ago, I won this primary with 73 percent of the vote. I could easily have done the same again,” Cheney said in her concession speech. “The path was clear. But it would have required that I go along with President Trump’s lie about the 2020 election. It would have required that I enable his ongoing efforts to unravel our democratic system and attack the foundations of our republic. That was a path I could not and would not take.”

Of the 10 House Republicans who voted to impeach Trump, only six decided to run for reelection. Separately, since 2018, incumbent House Republicans have lost eight primary races where Trump either remained uninvolved or backed an incumbent who lost.

Redistricting years typically result in more vulnerable incumbents, complicating comparisons to the Tea Party movement that resulted in major upsets after the 2010 midterms, culminating in Speaker Eric Cantor losing renomination in 2014. Jacob Rubashkin, reporter and analyst at Inside Elections, noted that between 2010 and 2014, Republican losses were “more spontaneous.”

“You never quite knew who was gonna be next,” Rubashkin said. “Nowadays, we know exactly who’s gonna be next because we all get a press release in our inbox saying, ‘This person’s next on the list.’”

Here’s a look at what happened to the incumbent Republicans who lost their House primaries since Trump was elected:

Elected: 2016

Defeated: Aug. 2022

Challenger: Harriet Hageman

What happened: Cheney faced a tough primary after her outspoken criticism of Trump and her participation on the committee investigating the Jan. 6 attacks. Her statements about Trump also led to her ouster from the House leadership.

Elected: 2010

Defeated: Aug. 2022

Challenger: Joe Kent

What happened: Herrera Beutler narrowly lost to her Republican challenger Joe Kent in her Washington district's top-two primary. She was one of the 10 Republicans who voted to impeach Trump in January 2021, and Kent received his endorsement.

Defeated: Aug. 2022

What happened: Meijer agonized over his eventual decision to impeach Trump after the Jan. 6 attacks. Meijer was the only freshman Republican to do so. The DCCC bought ads boosting the name recognition of his opponent, Trump-endorsed John Gibbs.

Elected: 2012

Defeated: June 2022

Challenger: Mary Miller

What happened: Davis had spent years defending a competitive central Illinois seat before redistricting put him in a much more Republican-friendly district — one that also pit him against another Republican incumbent. Trump ended up endorsing Mary Miller instead.

Elected: 2010

Defeated: June 2022

Challenger: Mike Ezell

What happened: Palazzo couldn't recover the political ground he lost after the Office of Congressional Ethics alleged he had misused campaign funds. He won the initial, crowded primary with about a third of the vote. But in the primary runoff, Palazzo fell short.

What happened: Rice was one of 10 Republicans who voted to impeach Trump in January 2021. As a result, Rice was censured by the South Carolina Republican Party, and his opponent, Russell Fry, campaigned on the vote, receiving Trump's endorsement.

Elected: 2020

Defeated: May 2022

Challenger: Chuck Edwards

What happened: Despite support from Trump, Cawthorn conceded his seat representing North Carolina's 11th district to conservative state senator Chuck Edwards. Scandals plagued Cawthorn's single term and the end of his campaign, including alleged insider trading.

Elected: 2010

Defeated: May 2022

Challenger: Alex Mooney

What happened: When West Virginia lost a House seat in reapportionment, two Republican incumbents squared off to represent a single seat. Trump threw his support behind Alex Mooney, whose allies accused McKinley of working with the Biden administration.

Defeated: Aug. 2020

What happened: Spano lost in the primary after a single term amid allegations that he misreported campaign contributions as personal funds during his 2018 campaign. His opponent had support from a Trump ally, U.S. Rep. Matt Gaetz, R-Fla.

Elected: 2018

Defeated: Aug. 2020

Challenger: Jake LaTurner

What happened: Watkins' short time as a candidate for and member of Congress was plagued with scandal, leading to the Republican governor openly recruiting a challenger. A few weeks before the primary, Watkins was charged with voter fraud.

picture of Scott Tipton

Elected: 2010

Defeated: June 2020

Challenger: Lauren Boebert

What happened: Tipton had Trump's endorsement in what was expected to be a run-of-the-mill re-election race for a fifth-term congressman. But Lauren Boebert gained a following for campaigning against covid-era health regulations and for gun rights.

picture of Denver Riggleman

Elected: 2018

What happened: Despite his current reputation as a Trump critic, Riggleman entered his last congressional race with an endorsement from the former president. But after Riggleman officiated a same-sex wedding, Bob Good garnered support from social conservatives.

Elected: 2002

Defeated: June 2020

Challenger: Randy Feenstra

What happened: King lost his primary more than a year after being stripped of his committee assignments following comments in the New York Times that signaled support for white supremacy. The House later passed a resolution rebuking him.

picture of Mark Sanford

Elected: 2013*

Defeated: June 2018

Challenger: Katie Arrington

What happened: Trump decided to endorse Katie Arrington hours before the polls closed, dredging up a decade-old sex scandal that once plagued Sanford and accusing him of being "very unhelpful to me in my campaign to MAGA."

picture of Robert Pittenger

What happened: Mark Harris campaigned as the more conservative choice against Pittenger in 2018, after nearly defeating him two years prior. This chapter of the NC-09 saga often gets lost, however, amid a cloud of investigations over fraud in the general election.

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