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. He is the first of the 10 House Republicans who voted to impeach Trump to lose a reelection bid.
Rice, a five-term congressman, was defeated Tuesday by state Rep. Russell Fry, who was endorsed 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, another South Carolina Republican who angered Trump, was hovering just above the 50% threshold needed to avert a runoff in 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. In Maine, a former Republican congressman is looking to reclaim his old 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:
Crossing Trump: South Carolina Republicans face challenges
Rep. Tom Rice, a five-term congressman, attracted a half-dozen GOP challengers after his vote to impeach Trump. 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 endorsed state Rep. Russell Fry in the race.
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 vowed revenge against the 10 House Republicans who crossed party lines to impeach him. Four of the 10 decided against seeking reelection. A fifth, Rep. David Valadao of California, is still waiting to hear the results of his primary election from last week; he is fighting for the second spot in a race where the top two finishers advance to the general election in November.
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. The district includes the tourist hotspot of Myrtle Beach and a number of inland, 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, who narrowly defeated Cunningham in 2020, has spent one term representing the politically diverse 1st Congressional District, which includes Charleston and stretches south to other coastal areas including Hilton Head Island.
Primary challenge in Nevada’s safest GOP House seat
Rep. Mark Amodei is facing a primary challenge from a perennial candidate with a famous last name.
Danny Tarkanian, son of legendary University of Nevada, Las Vegas basketball coach Jerry Tarkanian, is trying to knock off the six-term incumbent in the sprawling, rural northern district that no Democrat has won in its 40 years.
Over the years, Tarkanian has launched two Senate campaigns and lost numerous congressional bids in two other districts. But he created enough of a stir in 2018 in a primary challenge to Sen. Dean Heller that Trump intervened to persuade him to drop out and run again for the House.
Amodei won a special election for the seat in 2011 after Heller was appointed to fill an unexpired Senate term. A member of the House Appropriations Committee, Amodei has easily turned back previous primary challenges in the past.
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. She has been endorsed by Sanders and Rep. Cori Bush of Missouri, a progressive activist who scored a primary upset in 2020 against a 20-year Democratic incumbent.
Titus was a leading advocate for Biden during his 2020 presidential campaign. She has served six House terms and chairs a transportation subcommittee.
With one of the most liberal voting records in Congress, Titus has steamrolled her way through primary opponents 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.
Former Maine congressman bids for House return
A former congressman wants his old seat back in Maine, but he must first hold off a challenge from a fellow Republican in the largely rural, politically mixed 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.
This year, Poliquin is hoping to win a rematch over Golden in one of the most closely watched races of the 2022 midterms. To get there, he must stave off a primary challenge from Liz Caruso, the first selectwoman of the tiny town of 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.
Four candidates are running to finish the term of former Rep. Filemon Vela, a five-term Democrat who left Congress earlier this year to take a job in the private sector. They include Republican Mayra Flores, who won the GOP nomination for the seat in March and hopes that a short-term victory Tuesday will give her momentum toward flipping the seat in November.
Big gains by Trump along the border with Mexico in 2020 have put Democrats on the defensive after decades of one-party control 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.
The first-place finisher would need more than 50% of the vote Tuesday to win outright. Otherwise, the top two finishers will go on to an August runoff.
—Associated Press writers Scott Sonner in Reno, Nev., Paul Weber in Austin, Texas, and Patrick Whittle in Portland, Maine, contributed to this report
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