Kevin McCarthy is helping House lawmakers facing Trump-backed primary challenges, putting him on a 2022 collision course with the former president

Kevin McCarthy
House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy of California speaks at the Capitol on July 21, 2021. AP Photo/Jose Luis Magana
  • A Kevin McCarthy-linked PAC is helping shore up GOP members who impeached Trump, CNN reports.
  • The PAC has raised funds for five out of the 10 Republicans who voted for impeachment.
  • The effort could put McCarthy in an awkward situation and a potential 2022 collision course with Trump.
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House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy is working to shore up five of the 10 House Republicans who voted to impeach President Donald Trump with his joint fundraising committee, CNN reported, activity that threatens to put him on a 2022 collision course with the former president.

Take Back the House 2022 has given around $US100,000 ($AU135,734) this year to Reps. Jaime Herrera Beutler of Washington and Fred Upton of Michigan, both of whom have primary challengers endorsed by Trump, in addition to Rep. John Katko of New York, Rep. David Valadao of California, and Rep. Peter Meijer, also of Michigan, CNN reported citing campaign finance filings.

Perhaps not unsurprisingly, the committee has not helped fundraise for Reps. Liz Cheney or Adam Kinzinger, the two most vocally anti-Trump members of the House GOP caucus.

Cheney was booted out of her position as GOP conference chair after Trump’s impeachment, and both members are now the only two Republicans serving on the House Select Committee investigating January 6 – and were appointed to it by Democratic House Speaker Nancy Pelosi.

Trump officially endorsed a primary challenger to Cheney, Harriet Hageman, in Wyoming’s at-large congressional on Thursday, hoping to clear the field enough to create a head-to-head contest between Hageman and Cheney, who was first elected to the seat in 2016 by winning her primary with a plurality of just under 40% of the vote.

Kinzinger also faces a primary challenger from Catalina Lauf, who ran in and lost the GOP primary to challenge Democratic Rep. Lauren Underwood in a different Illinois district in 2020. But Kinzinger’s central Illinois congressional district could be eliminated altogether or significantly changed in post-2020 redistricting in the state, which will lose one House seat due to slowing population growth.

Take Back the House 2022 has also not yet raised funds for three other members who voted to impeach Trump. They are Rep. Anthony Gonzalez of Ohio, who is facing a primary challenge from former Trump staffer Max Miller, Rep. Dan Newhouse of Washington, and Rep. Tom Rice of South Carolina, who also voted to impeach Trump, CNN reported.

Trump getting actively involved in House primaries threatens to put McCarthy in an awkward position both in terms of his relationship with the former president, the de facto leader of the GOP, and his prospects for becoming House speaker if Republicans retake the chamber in 2022.

Joe Kent, the Trump-endorsed primary challenger to Herrera Beutler, for example, told CNN that he would “absolutely not” support McCarthy for speaker.

Before this year, it was almost unheard of for former presidents to back primary challengers to members of their own party, and could also lead to some headaches for the National Republican Campaign Committee, the House GOP campaign arm, which traditionally stays out of primaries.

Rep. Tom Emmer of Minnesota, the committee’s chair, publicly warned Trump against interfering in House GOP primaries back in March.

“He can do whatever he wants,” Emmer told Politico. “But I would tell him that it’s probably better for us that we keep these people and we make sure that we have a majority that can be sustained going forward.”

And while Trump did not heed his guidance, CNN reported that House GOP leaders are still trying to hold off Trump from endorsing primary challenges to Katko and Valadao specifically. Both represent competitive swing districts carried by President Joe Biden in 2020, a year with a record low number of “crossover” districts that backed members of different parties for president and Congress.