CHARLESTON, S.C. — U.S. Rep. Tom Rice of South Carolina has been ousted from Congress in his Republican primary after voting to impeach Donald Trump over the Jan. 6 insurrection. The first member of the 10 House Republicans to vote to impeach Trump is him.
State Rep. Russell Fry was elected to defeat Rice. Fry was supported by Trump. Rice was a strong supporter of Trump’s policies in Washington but said he was left no choice but to impeach Trump over his failure to calm the mob that violently sought to stop the certification of Joe Biden’s victory.
U.S. Rep. Nancy Mace of South Carolina, who also angered Trump was just above the threshold to prevent a runoff for her GOP primary.
In other races Tuesday, Democratic Rep. Dina Titus in Nevada was being opposed by a progressive, while Republican Rep. Mark Amodei drew a challenge from a son of one of the state’s most famous sports figures. A former Republican Congressman from Maine is seeking to regain his seat.
In Texas, a special primary election is being held to serve the remaining months of former Democratic Rep. Filemon Vela’s term.
Key congressional races to follow in Tuesday’s primary elections in Maine, Nevada, North Dakota, South Carolina and Texas:
Trump’s Crossing: South Carolina Republicans Face Challenges
After his vote to impeach Trump, Rep. Tom Rice (a 5-term Congressman) attracted half-dozen GOP challengesrs. All had cited the vote as a mark of disloyalty to both the former president and Rice’s constituents in the 7th Congressional District, which heavily supported Trump in his two campaigns. Trump supported Russell Fry, a state representative.
Rice, an otherwise consistent supporter of Trump’s policies, stood by his vote, acknowledging it could lead to his ouster but saying he followed his conscience.
Trump had vow of revenge against 10 House Republicans for crossing party lines to impeach Trump. Fourteen of the 10 voted not to seek reelection. Five of the 10, including Rep. David Valadao, from California, voted against reelection.
Trump had campaigned with Fry earlier this year and described Rice as “respected by no one.”
The 7th Congressional District is strongly Republican and likely to remain in the party’s hands this fall. It includes Myrtle Beach, which is a popular tourist spot, as well as a variety of rural areas.
Taking a somewhat different approach, Rep. Nancy Mace sought to make amends for angering Trump, filming a video in New York this year outside Trump Tower to remind her constituents that she was one of the former president’s “earliest supporters.” She worked for his 2016 campaign and had his backing in her 2020 run.
Besides criticizing Trump for the Jan. 6 insurrection, Mace went against the former president’s wishes by voting to certify President Joe Biden’s win in the 2020 election and to hold Steve Bannon in contempt of Congress for defying a subpoena from the committee investigating the Capitol insurrection.
Trump has supported Mace’s opponent, former state Rep. Katie Arrington, who won the GOP nomination for the seat in 2018 by defeating incumbent Mark Sanford. She went on to lose the seat to Joe Cunningham in the general election in Democrats’ first flip of a South Carolina seat in decades.
Mace narrowly beat Cunningham in 2020. He served one term as the representative of the politically diverse 1st Congressional district, which encompasses Charleston, and stretches southward to other areas, including Hilton Head Island.
Primary challenge in Nevada’s safest GOP House seat
Rep. Mark Amodei faces a primary challenge by a popular candidate.
Danny Tarkanian was born to Jerry Tarkanian’s legendary University of Nevada Las Vegas basketball coach. He is currently trying to win the seat of the former incumbent.
Tarkanian lost two congressional races in his two Senate campaigns over the years. In 2018, he caused enough controversy in his primary challenge to Senator Dean Heller, that Trump intervened and persuaded him to run for another term in the House.
Amodei won the special election in 2011. Heller had been appointed to fulfill an expired Senate term. Amodei is a member the House Appropriations Committee and has done well in overcoming previous primary challenges.
Nevada Democrat faces primary in state’s bluest district
Democratic Rep. Dina Titus, the dean of Nevada’s congressional delegation, is facing a progressive challenge from Amy Vilela in the state’s most liberal district.
Vilela, who lost a primary bid in a neighboring district to Rep. Steven Horsford in 2018, was the Nevada co-chair of Bernie Sanders’ 2020 presidential campaign. Sanders and Rep. Cori Bush of Missouri, a progressive activist that beat a Democratic incumbent by 20 years in the primary election in 2020, have supported her.
Titus was an advocate for Biden’s 2020 campaign. Six terms in the House, she chairs a Transportation Subcommittee.
Titus is a liberal voter with one of the best records in Congress. She has dominated primary opposition over the years. But she has complained about how Nevada redrew its congressional districts after the 2020 census, turning her safely Democratic district into one where the party’s registered voters have only a single-digit margin.
A former Maine Congressman is running for the House
Former congressman, however, wants to regain his seat in Maine. He must also resist the challenge of a Republican who lives in this rural district.
Bruce Poliquin represented Maine’s 2nd Congressional District from 2015 to 2019 until losing to Democratic Rep. Jared Golden. Golden’s victory over Poliquin was the first congressional election decided by ranked-choice voting in U.S. history.
Poliquin hopes to win the rematch against Golden this year in the highly watched race of the 2022 midterms. Poliquin must defeat Liz Caruso who is the first female selectwoman from Caratunk.
Texas special primary election to finish congressman’s term
Whether Republicans can continue making gains with Hispanic voters — a top goal for the party in 2022 — is getting an early test in a South Texas special election.
To finish the term of the former Rep. Filemon Vela (a five-term Democrat) who left Congress to pursue a career in the private sector, four candidates have been announced. These include Republican Mayra Flowers, who was nominated by the GOP for the seat and is hopeful that Tuesday’s short-term win will help her gain momentum in the race to flip the seat.
Trump’s big gains along the Mexican border in 2020 has put Democrats back on guard after years of one-party rule in South Texas. Democratic Rep. Vicente Gonzalez switched from a neighboring district because of redistricting to run for Vela’s seat and is the party’s nominee for November. But he isn’t running to finish Vela’s term, and party leaders have rallied in the special election behind Democrat Dan Sanchez.
To win, the first place finisher must receive more than half of Tuesday’s votes. If that happens, then the August runoff will take place between two of the highest-placed finishers.
—Scott Sonner (Renewal, Nev.), Paul Weber (Austin, Texas) and Patrick Whittle (Portland, Maine) were Associated Press reporters who contributed to this report.
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