Even as GOP leaders try to turn the focus of the country to President Joe Biden, former President Donald Trump just keeps fighting the last war – going after Republican incumbents who either voted to impeach him or otherwise wronged him.
Wednesday brought two such moves from Trump.
In Washington state, Trump endorsed the candidacy of former gubernatorial candidate Loren Culp, a Republican who is running against GOP Rep. Dan Newhouse in the state’s 4th District. “Newhouse joined the Radical Left Democrats to vote for the Impeachment Hoax,” Trump said in a statement announcing his endorsement of Culp. Newhouse was one of 10 House Republicans who voted to impeach Trump for his actions on January 6, 2021.
Culp, like Trump, has regularly pushed the idea of voter fraud in elections. He has refused to concede his 2020 race against Democratic Gov. Jay Inslee, despite losing by more than 500,000 votes. Trump said in his endorsement that Culp “will always defend your personal liberty, our under-siege Second Amendment, Election Integrity and Law Enforcement.”
(Sidebar: No, I don’t understand why Trump capitalizes what he does either.)
Trump also weighed in on Rep. Nancy Mace’s bid for reelection South Carolina’s 1st District, backing GOP challenger Katie Arrington.
“Katie Arrington is running against an absolutely terrible candidate, Congresswoman Nancy Mace, whose remarks and attitude have been devastating for her community, and not at all representative of the Republican Party to which she has been very disloyal,” said Trump in a statement announcing the endorsement.
While Mace didn’t vote to impeach Trump, she has been critical of him in the past. “We have to take a cold, hard look at ourselves and recognize that this is a real problem for our party,” she said shortly after the January 6 insurrection at the US Capitol. “We reap what we sow. We saw and heard the violent rhetoric at the rally and look what ended up happening.”
Mace and Newhouse join an ignominious list of Republican lawmakers that Trump has aggressively targeted for defeat following their perceived lack of loyalty. Of the 10 House Republicans who voted to impeach Trump, three (Reps. John Katko of New York, Adam Kinzinger of Illinois and Anthony Gonzalez of Ohio) have already retired in the face of problematic primary fights.
Here’s a look at the rest of the members of the group who are facing Republican challengers:
* Wyoming Rep. Liz Cheney: Trump has endorsed Harriet Hageman.
* Michigan Rep. Peter Meijer: Trump has endorsed John Gibbs.
* Washington Rep. Jaime Herrera Beutler: Trump has endorsed Joe Kent.
* South Carolina Rep. Tom Rice: Trump has endorsed Russell Fry.
* Michigan Rep. Fred Upton: Trump has endorsed Steve Carra.
That means the only one of the 10 House Republicans who voted to impeach Trump and is not either facing a challenge from a candidate backed by the former President or planning to retire is California Rep. David Valadao. (Valadao is a close ally of House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy, who endorsed his fellow Californian for reelection last fall.)
And it’s not just in the endorsement game where Trump is eating his own. On Wednesday night, Trump released a lengthy statement attacking Mitch McConnell, saying the Senate minority leader “does not speak for the Republican Party, and does not represent the views of the vast majority of its voters. He did nothing to fight for his constituents and stop the most fraudulent election in American history.”
That’s just the latest in a long series of Trump attacks on McConnell, and came just one day after the Senate GOP leader condemned the Republican National Committee’s censure of Cheney and Kinzinger for serving on the January 6 House select committee.
History suggests that the upcoming midterm election should be a very good one for Republicans. The president’s party traditionally suffers major losses at the House level, and the evenly divided Senate could easily tip toward the GOP.
And yet, even as the likes of McConnell try to keep the focus on Biden and unified Democratic control of Congress, Trump absolutely refuses to move on. He is deeply obsessed with exacting revenge against those who wronged him – whether or not it’s a good thing for his party.