Nearly two weeks later, the South Carolina Republican Party voted to censure Rep. Tom Rice for his vote earlier this month to impeach former President Donald Trump for “incitement of insurrection” on the U.S Capitol. The vote came as a shock to Republicans given that Rep. Rice has supported Trump’s 2016 and 2020 campaigns.
“We made our disappointment clear the night of the impeachment vote. Trying to impeach a president, with a week left in his term, is never legitimate and is nothing more than a political kick on the way out the door. Congressman Rice’s vote unfortunately played right into the Democrats’ game, and the people in his district, and ultimately our State Executive Committee, wanted him to know they wholeheartedly disagree with his decision,” said Drew McKissick, the chairman of the South Carolina GOP.
The vote was first approved in Rice’s Seventh Congressional District, Marion County, before being elevated to the state level. Nearly 50 members of the South Carolina GOP voted unanimously to censure Rep. Rice, 43-0, which amounts to a formal rebuke of the fifth-term congressman but won’t cause him to be removed from office.
While Rep. Rice defended his impeachment vote multiple times, he also released a statement the day of his censure vote. He explained that he doesn’t know if the President’s speech amounted to incitement of a riot but that “any reasonable person could see the potential for violence.” He said that he didn’t believe Trump did enough to separate himself from the rioters who stormed the U.S Capitol on Jan. 6.
Voting against a President based on conscience instead of fact and the constitution could cost Rice his re-election. He said he will stand up for whatever he thinks is “right.” Other politicians like Rep. William Bailey and Horry County School Board Chairman Ken Richardson have already hinted at running against Rep. Rice next year.
House Republicans have also censured Rep. Liz Cheney and criticized former Sen. Jeff Flake, Gov. Doug Ducey, and Cindy McCain, the widow of the late Sen. John McCain, for acting at odds with the former president. They’ve signaled that the impeachment trial is just another way for the radical left to continue dividing the country instead of unifying it.
This is a clear indication for Republicans who sided with Democrats in the Jan. 13 impeachment vote that Trump’s style of politics is around to stay. Members of the GOP will continue to support and respect the former president and his policies. While the South Carolina censure is symbolic, some Republican leaders say it will open the door to a tough primary fight for 2022.