Representative Tom Rice, who voted to convict former president Donald Trump for his role in the January 6 riot, lost his primary race for reelection in South Carolina 7th district on Tuesday evening.
State representative Russell Fry, whom Mr Trump endorsed, overwhelmingly beat Mr Rice and avoided a runoff race against the incumbent who had served since 2013.
“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—and we have just the man to do it!”, Mr Trump said in his endorsement of Mr Fry earlier this year.
Mr Rice is the first Republican to lose his primary after voting to impeach the former president. Representatives Adam Kinzinger of Illinois, Fred Upton of Michigan, Anthony Gonzalez of Ohio and John Katko of New York all chose not seek reelection.
“I have backed this president through thick and thin for four years. I campaigned for him and voted for him twice. But, this utter failure is inexcusable”, he said the week after the January 6 raid at the Capitol.
Mr Rice later said that he regretted voting against certifying the 2020 presidential election results.
Mr Trump continued his criticism of Mr Rice and fellow Republican representative Nancy Mace when he spoke at a rally in Florence, which is in Mr Rice’s district, in March.
“Thankfully, this June, you have the chance to dump these grandstanding losers and replace them with rock solid America First champions”, he said at the time.
Former House speaker Paul Ryan campaigned for Mr Rice earlier this month and praised Mr Rice’s vote.
“There were a lot of people who wanted to vote like Tom but who just didn’t have the guts to do”, he said, according to The Myrtle Beach Sun News. “There are a lot of people who say they’re going to vote their conscience, they’re going to vote for the constitution, they’re going to vote for their convictions but when it gets hard to do that they don’t do it.”
After Mr Trump’s rally in South Carolina, Mr Rice defended his vote again.
“If you want a congressman who supports political violence in Ukraine or in the United States Capitol, who supports party over country, who supports a would-be tyrant over the constitution, and who makes decisions based solely on re-election, then Russell Fry is your candidate”, he said at the time, WBTW reported. “If you want a congressman who cowers to no man, who votes for what is right, even when it’s hard, and who has fought like hell for the Grand Strand and Pee Dee, then I hope to earn your vote.”