Trump endorses primary challenger to GOP Rep. Tom Rice, continuing his effort to rid the party of anyone who supported his impeachment

Trump endorses primary challenger to GOP Rep. Tom Rice, continuing his effort to rid the party of anyone who supported his impeachment
Former President Donald Trump and Rep. Tom Rice, a Republican from South CarolinaScott Olson/Getty Images; House Television via AP
  • Trump endorsed a primary challenger to Rep. Tom Rice, one of the 10 GOP lawmakers who voted to impeach him for inciting the Capitol riot.
  • The former president has now backed primary challengers to five of those 10 lawmakers.

Former President Donald Trump on Tuesday endorsed a primary challenger to Rep. Tom Rice, continuing his long crusade to rid the GOP of any lawmakers who supported efforts to impeach or convict him for inciting the Capitol insurrection.

"Congressman Tom Rice of South Carolina, the coward who abandoned his constituents by caving to Nancy Pelosi and the Radical Left, and who actually voted against me on Impeachment Hoax #2, must be thrown out of office ASAP," Trump said in a statement released by his Save America PAC.

Trump is backing South Carolina state lawmaker Russell Fry, one of several candidates in the crowded primary to oust Rice, The Myrtle Beach Sun News previously reported. South Carolina's election laws leave open the possibility that the election will result in the runoff if none of the candidates earn a majority of the vote come June 14.

Trump has made it one of his personal missions to target the 17 Republican lawmakers who voted to punish him for his role in inciting the Capitol riot. Of the 10 House Republicans who voted to impeach him, three have already retired. Counting Rice, five of them are facing Trump-backed primary challengers. Trump has yet to endorse primary challengers to Rep. Dan Newhouse of Washington or Rep. David Valadao of California, the latter of which has a major ally in House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy.

In a statement emailed to Insider, Rice said: "I'm glad he's chosen someone. All the pleading to Mar-a-Lago was getting a little embarrassing. I'm all about Trump's policy. But absolute pledge of loyalty, to a man that is willing to sack the Capitol to keep his hold on power is more than I can stomach."


Rice is sitting on a sizeable war chest compared to Fry, which he will almost certainly rely on as the race heats up. The lawmaker's campaign reported starting the year with over $1.8 million compared to Fry's $327,000. Rice also received a $5,000 check from Sen. Lisa Murkowski, the maximum-allowed contributed, and another $2,900 from Rep. Peter Meijer's respective political outfits, a sign that pro-impeachment lawmakers may try to stick together.

Rep. Anthony Gonzalez of Ohio, once a rising star in the party and one of the 10 House Republicans, told The New York Times that Trump was a "cancer" in announcing his retirement.

The impeachment backers aren't entirely alone though.

Former President George W. Bush and other long-time party figures have lined up to try to defend them. Bush cut checks to both Rep. Liz Cheney, the eldest daughter of his former vice president, and Murkowski, both of whom face reelection this November. Murkowski was one of seven GOP senators to vote to convict Trump.

Rice's vote to impeach Trump was viewed as surprising at the time since he was the only one of the 10 who voted against certifying any of the 2020 election results. Late last year, Rice became the first of any of the 147 Republicans who voted against certification after the riot took place to publicly say that he regretted his vote.


"In retrospect I should have voted to certify," Rice told Politico's Olivia Beavers. "Because President Trump was responsible for the attack on the Capitol."