- Almost all of the GOP Senators who voted to convict Trump are receiving blowback back home.
- Several are facing formal censures from local or statewide Republican parties in their states.
- Only one, Sen. Lisa Murkowski of Alaska, is up for reelection next year in 2022.
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Nearly all of the seven Republican Senators who voted to convict Trump in his second impeachment trial, which concluded February 13, are now facing significant blowback and potential censure votes in their home states.
The senators who voted to find Trump guilty on a charge of inciting the January 6 insurrection on the US Capitol are Sen. Richard Burr of North Carolina, Sen. Bill Cassidy of Louisiana, Sen. Susan Collins of Maine, Sen. Lisa Murkowski of Alaska, Sen. Mitt Romney of Utah, Sen. Ben Sasse of Nebraska, and Sen. Pat Toomey of Pennsylvania.
Burr and Toomey are both retiring their seats when their terms are up in 2022, but their state Republican parties still issued strong statements condemning their votes.
Leaders of at least five county-level Republican parties have moved to censure Toomey already, KDKA News reported, and the North Carolina Republican Party’s central committee held an emergency meeting on Monday night where it voted unanimously to censure Burr.
“It is truly a sad day for North Carolina Republicans,” Burr responded in a statement. “My party’s leadership has chosen loyalty to one man over the core principles of the Republican Party and the founders of our great nation.”
Censures are formal votes of disapproval or disavowal of a lawmaker’s decisions or actions, but often only carry symbolic consequences and not material punishment.
Perhaps the most surprising vote to convict came from Cassidy, who unlike some of the other Senators who moved to find Trump guilty, had not been a vocal Trump critic prior to his conviction vote. The Louisiana Republican Party’s Executive Committee censured Cassidy in a unanimous vote on Saturday evening, just hours after the impeachment vote.
“Our Constitution and our country is more important than any one person. I voted to convict President Trump because he is guilty,” Cassidy, who just won reelection for a six-year term in 2020,said in a short statement explaining his vote on Saturday night.
In Utah, a number of Republicans are circulating a petition to censure Romney, who is up for reelection next in 2024, the Salt Lake Tribune reported. The petition asserts that Romney “appears to be an agent for the Establishment Deep State” and “misrepresented himself as a Republican” during his 2018 campaign.
The state Republican Party, however, is not backing any censure effort, and issued a statement that did not condemn either Romney or Sen. Mike Lee, who voted to acquit Trump. Their statement instead framed the healthy disagreement within their party as a positive thing.
“The differences between our own Utah Republicans showcase a diversity of thought, in contrast to the danger of a party fixated on ‘unanimity of thought,'” the statement read. “There is power in our differences as a political party, and we look forward to each senator explaining their votes to the people of Utah.”
In Maine, the chair of state’s Republican party told members in an email “to be prepared for an emergency state committee meeting in the near future” over Collins’ conviction vote, the Bangor Daily News reported.
Collins, who has long positioned herself as an independent-leaning Republican voice, handily won reelection to a six-year term in 2020. She was the only senator in either the 2016 or 2020 cycles to win in a state that voted for a presidential candidate of the opposite party.
And several Nebraska Republican activists were already pushing to censure Sasse, one of the bluntest and most vocal GOP critics of Trump’s role in the January 6 riots, prior to his vote to convict Trump. Sasse too is not up for reelection until 2026.
“You are welcome to censure me,” Sasse told the Nebraska GOP in a February 5 video statement. “But let’s be clear about why this is happening. It’s because I still believe, as you used to, that politics isn’t about the weird worship of one dude.”
Murkowski is the only one of the seven senators up for reelection in 2022. She’ll be somewhat insulated from a primary challenge from the right, however, due to Alaska adopting nonpartisan top-four primaries and ranked-choice voting beginning in 2022.
“This was consequential on many levels, but I cannot allow the significance of my vote, to be devalued by whether or not I feel that this is helpful for my political ambitions,” Murkowski told Politico’s Burgess Everett after her vote on Saturday.
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