A vote to convict Donald Trump is having consequences.
The seven Senate Republicans who found the former president guilty in the Democratic-engineered impeachment trial that ended Saturday are already finding out from the folks back home just how unpopular that move was.
North Carolina’s Sen. Richard Burr is the latest example, and Republicans looking at the 2022 midterms and 2024 presidential election should be paying attention.
At a meeting called for Monday night to react to Burr’s vote to convict Trump, the central committee of the North Carolina Republican Party is all but certain to censure the three-term Republican, The Charlotte Observer reported Sunday.
Burr “betrayed his constituents,” said Kyshia Lineberger, the North Carolina Republican national committeewoman, according to The Observer.
“I am going to vote to censure Senator Richard Burr on behalf of the grassroots across the state and because I do truly feel that his vote was improper,” Lineberger told the paper. “I’m really disheartened by his choice and his vote.”
The state central committee consists of about 30 high-ranking members of the North Carolina Republican Party, including chairmen and women from each of the Tar Heel State’s 13 congressional districts, according to The Observer.
State Republican Chairman Michael Whatley, another member of the committee, issued a statement Saturday calling Burr’s vote to convict “shocking,” the report said.
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When push came to shove, though, the senator tried to justify his vote in a statement that argued that after the Democratic majority voted to proceed with the trial as “constitutional,” he felt a “precedent” had been established that enabled him to go along with Trump’s conviction, according to the report.
Fellow Republicans weren’t buying it.
“North Carolina Republicans sent Senator Burr to the United States Senate to uphold the Constitution and his vote today to convict in a trial that he declared unconstitutional is shocking and disappointing,” Whatley’s statement said, according to The Observer.
Burr has already announced he’s not running for re-election when his term is up in 2022.
“The biggest winner, I think, of this whole impeachment trial is Lara Trump,” Graham said on “Fox News Sunday.”
“My dear friend Richard Burr — who I like and have been friends to a long time — just made Lara Trump almost the certain nominee for the Senate seat in North Carolina to replace him if she runs, and I’ll certainly be behind her because I think she represents the future of the Republican Party,” he said.
The possibility is intriguing, even though, as Fox reported, Lara Trump — who was born in Wilmington, North Carolina, and graduated from North Carolina State University — has not made any official announcement about the seat, beyond tweeting the results of a poll in December that showed her as the leading candidate in a potential Republican Senate primary.
Wow, very nice! Thank you! 🇺🇸 https://t.co/atgZW87cOj
— Lara Trump (@LaraLeaTrump) December 9, 2020
There’s no doubt her last name has a lot to do with that. And there’s no doubt Democrats (and a few Republicans) are terrified of seeing that last name on an American ballot again.
Besides Burr, Republican senators who voted to convict Trump were Bill Cassidy of Louisiana, Susan Collins of Maine, Lisa Murkowski of Alaska, Mitt Romney of Utah, Ben Sasse of Nebraska and Pat Toomey of Pennsylvania.
Romney could well be facing a similar action from his party in Utah, according to news accounts.
Sasse was already at odds with his state party’s power structure thanks to his previous tussles with Trump, according to The Associated Press, and might be more concerned with how he’s viewed by Republicans nationally than in the Cornhusker State.
(Here’s a hint: NOT well at all.)
Toomey has been censured by several county committees in Pennsylvania, according to KDKA-TV in Pittsburgh. He had also previously announced he’s not seeking re-election in 2022.
Of the Republicans who voted to convict Trump, only Murkowski is running for re-election in the midterms. And as John McCormack pointed out at National Review on Monday, she doesn’t have to worry about a traditional primary system, thanks to Alaska’s new open-primary law.
(Murkowski, whose father was both a governor and U.S. senator in Alaska, clearly doesn’t think she owes her seat to the party. According to her congressional biography page, she was initially appointed to the Senate to fill her father’s seat in 2002, then won a full term in 2004. After losing a Republican primary vote in 2010, she ran a write-in campaign and won the seat again. She won the Republican primary in 2016, according to The Associated Press. That was the last GOP primary in Alaska that Murkowski will have to worry about, according to Ballotpedia.)
The remaining vote to convict, Collins, is a maverick in the Republican ranks as much as Murkowski (despite Collins’ heroic vote to confirm now-Supreme Court Justice Brett Kavanaugh). But she is also facing a potential censure vote from her state party, according to the Bangor Daily News.
For Republicans and Democrats with an eye on the midterms or even the next presidential election, all of this matters.
If Republicans want to hold onto the loyalty of the 75 million Americans who voted for Trump in 2020, the party is going to need to deal with the fact that the mainstream media, the Hollywood elite and, of course, the Democratic Party want nothing more than to see him gone.
That’s what the impeachment farce was really all about.
Those Trump voters aren’t going anywhere, and there are no doubt tens of millions of them who doubt the legitimacy of the 2020 result, even if they were appalled by the Jan. 6 incursion at the Capitol that led to Trump’s second impeachment.
They know how the mainstream media, the giants of social media and the cultural elites threw everything they had at the Trump campaign, and he still drew 12 million more votes in 2020 than the 63 million he got nationwide in 2016.
Many of those voters are going to be around for the 2022 midterms and remembering well which senators and representatives stood behind the 45th president.
And come the midterms in 2022, when control of the House and Senate are again at issue, there’s a good chance Democrats now holding office will be learning about those consequences, too.
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