Tom Rice’s impeachment vote draws Trump-endorsed primary challenger

Seven candidates are running in the Republican primary for South Carolina’s 7th Congressional District on June 14, 2022. Incumbent Tom Rice and Russell Fry and received the most media attention.

Rice, first elected to the U.S. House in 2012, was one of 10 Republican members of the U.S. House who voted to impeach former President Donald Trump (R) in 2021. The Republican Party of South Carolina censured Rice after his vote. In Feb. 2022, Rice told NPR that he stood by his impeachment vote. “And I guess if the consequences are that the people think what happened is OK, then I guess, you know, I’m not that guy,” Rice said.

Jerry Rovner, the Republican chair of District 7, told NPR that the vote could cost Rice his seat. Rovner said, “That is one of the vulnerabilities of Tom Rice. Nobody would have thought of doing that. I mean, Tom could have been in that seat forever.”

Trump endorsed Fry on Feb. 1, 2022, who was elected to the South Carolina House of Representatives in 2015. In his endorsement, Trump said, “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.”

Fry responded to Trump’s endorsement, saying, “Radical Leftists, enabled by RINOs (Republicans In Name Only) like Tom Rice, are trying to erase President Trump’s legacy and move America towards socialism. We can’t let that happen.”

Rice also responded to Trump’s endorsement. “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,” he said.

U.S. Rep. Liz Cheney (R-Wyo.) and former New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie (R) endorsed Rice. In addition to Trump, eight members of the South Carolina House of Representatives and MyPillow founder Mike Lindell endorsed Fry.

Also running in the primary are Barbara Arthur, Garrett Barton, Mark McBride, Spencer Morris, and Ken Richardson.