Three Republican members of the U.S. House who voted to impeach Donald Trump over the January 6 uprising are challenged in Tuesday’s primaries by rivals endorsed by the former president.
The primaries for Representatives Peter Meijer, Jaime Herrera Beutler and Dan Newhouse are the biggest test yet for GOP incumbent officials who broke with Trump after a mob of his supporters stormed the U.S. Capitol in an attempt to keep him in power. Trump has sworn revenge against the 10 House Republicans who crossed party lines for the impeachment vote.
Of the 10, four chose not to stand for re-election in this year’s midterm elections. As for those who did, Rep. South Carolina’s Tom Rice lost to a Trump-approved challenger in June, while Rep. David Valadao from California survived a challenge that same month from a fellow Republican, who advances to the general election. Rep. Wyoming’s Liz Cheney braces herself for a defeat in her August 16 primary against a Trump-backed rival.
In other races Tuesday, two Democratic incumbents in Michigan will face each other in a newly drawn congressional district, and two members of the progressive “Squad” have primary challengers in Missouri and Michigan. In Arizona, GOP voters will decide whether to nominate a key QAnon figure for a congressional seat.
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Facing voters after impeachment votes
The three House Republicans facing the biggest challenges to impeach Trump on Tuesday say they don’t regret voting.
In Michigan, Meijer voted for impeachment just days after he was sworn in for his first term in office. The former president backed Meijer’s opponent John Gibbs, a businessman and missionary who served in the Trump administration under Housing Secretary Ben Carson.
Gibbs has argued that Meijer is not a true Republican because he voted to impeach Trump, and Gibbs reprimanded Meijer for supporting the bipartisan gun control bill President Biden signed in June.
Meijer, a member of the army reserves who served in Iraq, has criticized Biden over the US withdrawal from Afghanistan and his handling of the economy. The Congressman’s family is known in the Midwest as owners of the megastores of Meijer supermarkets, and he has a major fundraising advantage over Gibbs. The winner will face Democrat Hillary Scholten in November in the state’s Democratic-oriented 3rd Congressional District.
In Washington state, the two Republicans who voted to impeach each other in crowded primaries, from which the top two votes, regardless of political party, advance to the November general election.
Herrera Beutler’s primary against eight challengers, four of whom are Republicans, in Washington state’s 3rd congressional district will be one of the toughest of her career. Trump backs Joe Kent, a former green beret who has promoted the former president’s lies that the 2020 election was stolen.
Herrera Beutler has been in Congress since 2011, representing an area that favored Republicans.
In central Washington, Newhouse, a four-year congressman, faces seven challengers, six of whom are Republicans, in the solidly conservative 4th Congressional District. His rivals include Loren Culp, a former small-town police chief who refused to give in to the 2020 governor’s race. Culp has Trump’s support but has lagged behind other candidates in fundraising.
Candidate linked to QAnon
Ron Watkins, one of the most prominent figures in the QAnon conspiracy movement, has a shot at a House seat in Arizona’s sprawling 2nd Congressional District.
He was the longtime administrator of online message boards that helped create the conspiracy movement whose adherents believe a group of satanic, cannibalistic child molesters are secretly running the world.
Watkins no longer runs the message boards and has denied fueling the QAnon movement. He said he is running for Congress because he hopes to “fix the machine from within.”
He is considered a contender in the crowded GOP field, having been outdone by the other candidates in campaign fundraising.
State Representative Walter Blackman and Eli Crane, a former Navy SEAL who owns a bottle opener company and was endorsed by Trump, are considered the top GOP candidates. The winner will face Democratic US Representative Tom O’Halleran in November in a Republican-preferred district.
Challenging the ‘Squad’
Two members of the Squad in Congress face the main challenges on Tuesday.
In Michigan, Rep. Rashida Tlaib faces three Democratic challengers as she seeks a third term in office. She runs in a newly drawn district in Detroit, where the winner is expected to easily carry the 12th Congressional District seat in November. Tlaib’s main competition is longtime Detroit City Clerk Janice Winfrey, who has a strong name recognition in the city.
In Missouri, first term of office is Rep. Cori Bush for a challenge in the state’s first congressional district. State senator Steve Roberts bets that Bush, an outspoken advocate for unburdening the police and diverting money into social services and mental health programs, is too liberal, even for heavily Democrat St. Louis.
Roberts has faced rape allegations twice, although prosecutors said they did not have enough evidence to press charges. He accused the Bush campaign of inciting the charges to distract her.
Bush has touted her achievements, including convincing the Environmental Protection Agency to clean up radioactive waste near a St. Louis County creek, pushing for climate change action, and opposing evictions during the COVID-19 pandemic.
10 years after Tucson shooting, intern seeks Giffords’ seat
Daniel Hernandez Jr., de hero intern credited with saving Rep. Gabrielle Giffords after a attempted homicide in 2011, running for her former seat in Congress.
Hernandez, who recently stepped down from the state legislature to focus on his campaign, faces another former lawmaker in the Democratic primary. However, the once highly competitive district in Tucson is now in Republicans’ favor after the borders were redefined.
Hernandez was a 20-year-old student in his first week of internship at Giffords when he attended its “Congress on your corner” event. A gunman there opened fire, killing six and wounding 13. Hernandez kept the Democratic congresswoman conscious and applied pressure to her head wound until paramedics arrived.
Associated Press writers Sara Burnett in Chicago, Felicia Fonseca in Flagstaff, Ariz., Joey Cappelletti in Lansing, Michigan, Jonathan J. Cooper in Phoenix, Chris Grygiel in Seattle, and Jim Salter in St. Louis contributed to this report.
This story originally appeared in Los Angeles Times.