South Carolina GOP Rep. Tom Rice was formally censured by the state’s Republican Party for breaking with the majority of the party to support the impeachment of former President Donald Trump.
The South Carolina Republican Party delivered the announcement regarding Rice’s censure after ten different GOP representatives voted to impeach Trump due to his presumed encouragement of “insurrection”, based upon Trump’s purported responsibility in catalyzing the Capitol Hill attack, which tragically resulted in five deaths.
Consequently, the House passed the impeachment articles by an affirmative vote of 232-197 on January 13, or one week before Trump left office. Currently, the impeachment awaits trial in the Senate.
Drew McKissick, the GOP Chair of South Carolina, clearly indicated his displeasure with Rice’s affirmative impeachment vote, commenting, “Our disappointment [was] clear … [Impeaching] a president, with [under] a week left in his term, is never legitimate.”
McKissick also added that Rice’s vote played perfectly “into the Democrats’ game,” which is why the State Executive Committee, along with Rice’s constituents, “wanted him to know they wholeheartedly disagree with his decision.”
— South Carolina Republican Party (@SCGOP) January 30, 2021
Rice also noted “I don’t know if the President’s speech last Wednesday morning amounted to incitement of a riot,” though he also added, “any reasonable person could see the potential for violence.”
Marion County, located in Rice’s 7th Congressional District, first approved the censure against Rice, which was then elevated upwards to the state level. Per a GOP spokesperson from South Carolina, the resolution ultimately passed 43-0 with a voice vote, though two members abstained from voting.
Rice has represented a staunchly conservative district since 2013, and, due to his affirmative impeachment vote, he will likely square off against another contender in the 2022 primary challenges in the midterms election cycle.
In a virtual town hall meeting with his constituents, Rice claimed that “he voted his conscience” and he also “[acknowledged] the move could cost him re-election”, though “he hopes voters would respect that he stands up for what he thinks is right.”
Rice does have an ally in GOP Rep Liz Cheney of Wyoming, who also faced censure due to her own affirmative vote for impeachment. As the top Republican to side with impeachment proceedings, the Carbon County GOP blistered Cheney’s decision as “[a violation] of the trust of her voters.”
The backlash against Cheney has been enormous, with numerous House representatives calling for her resignation from her leadership position in the House chamber. In addition, over half the conference is amenable to a secret ballot vote for stripping Cheney of leadership responsibilities. Moreover, another Wyoming state representative intends to challenge Cheney in the 2022 primary season.