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Spokane, Washington  Est. May 19, 1883

Trump takes aim at a remaining House Republican who voted to impeach him

Rep. Dan Newhouse (R-Wash.) questions Homeland Security Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas during a House Committee on Appropriations hearing.  (Ricky Carioti/The Washington Post)
By Mariana Alfaro Washington Post

Rep. Dan Newhouse (R-Wash.) is among a dying breed in Congress: Of the 10 House Republicans who voted to impeach Donald Trump after the Jan. 6, 2021, attack on the Capitol, just Newhouse and one other remain in the chamber.

If Trump has his way, that won’t be the case much longer.

The former president last week endorsed Jerrod Sessler, a conservative Republican who has never held public office but who is again challenging Newhouse in the race for the 4th District in Washington state.

In a post shared on his social media site Truth Social, Trump said Sessler is “MAGA all the way, and has my Complete and Total Endorsement – He will never let you down!!!”

Newhouse, Trump said, “has to go.”

Speaking to the Washington Post this week, Newhouse declined to comment on Trump’s endorsement of his challenger, suggesting only that he expected that the former president would do that. Newhouse, however, remained optimistic that he will prevail in the primary.

“I’m going to win,” he said. “I’ll work as hard as I can.”

Of the 10 House Republicans who voted with Democrats to impeach Trump after a mob of his supporters broke into the Capitol on Jan. 6, only Newhouse and Rep. David G. Valadao (R-Calif.) remain in the House. Valadao faces a difficult general election in the 22nd District of California – a district that President Biden won by about 13 points in 2020.

Trump has long sought revenge against the Republicans who turned against him in the wake of the Capitol attack. In 2022, four of the 10 Republicans – then-Reps. Tom Rice (S.C.), Jaime Herrera Beutler (Wash.), Liz Cheney (Wyo.) and Peter Meijer (Mich.) – lost their primary races to challengers from the right.

Four others – then-Reps. Fred Upton (R-Mich.), John Katko (N.Y.), Anthony Gonzalez (Ohio) and Adam Kinzinger (Ill.) – chose to retire. Only Newhouse and Valadao held on to their seats.

Upton – who did not run for re-election in 2022 after his Michigan district was redrawn in a way that probably would’ve pushed him out in the general – told the Post on Wednesday that he is sure Trump’s decision to endorse Newhouse’s challenger is “more vengeance.”

Upton said that “everyone had their own reason to vote the way that they did” on Trump’s impeachment charges.

“Some were worried for their own safety. Some said, ‘You know, this is what my district would want,’ versus perhaps what I saw firsthand,” he said. “And some were, frankly, just scared of this bully.”

Newhouse’s district, Washington’s 4th, is a solidly red seat. The congressman has easily won re-election there by wide margins since 2014, most recently in 2022, when he defeated his Democratic opponent by 35 points. Trump won the district by 19 points in 2020. These numbers probably make the primary election the de facto general.

In his endorsement of Sessler, Trump called Newhouse a “weak and pathetic RINO” – short for “Republican in name only.”

This is not the first time Sessler, a Navy veteran and businessman, has challenged Newhouse. In 2022, Sessler and five other Republicans tried to unseat Newhouse, a farmer, but Newhouse prevailed. This time, however, Sessler is the only candidate challenging Newhouse in the GOP primary.

In a post shared on X after Trump’s endorsement, Sessler said, “#Honored.” Online, Sessler often shares messages from some of the most right-wing members of Congress and touts his credentials as a political firebrand.

In an interview with the Post last month, Newhouse said that while many of his moderate Republican colleagues in the House are leaving Congress – citing their conference’s inability to collaborate and strike successful legislative deals – he still has unfinished business in the chamber and will not let himself be discouraged from being in office by the extreme wing of his party.

“I’ve still got some things I want to accomplish, some issues that are important to me. It is a difficult environment, but it’s always hard, it’s never easy to get legislation through,” he said. “One of my biggest priorities is making some positive changes to our agricultural labor laws, and we’ve been getting where we’ve been making progress. I don’t want to leave before that’s done.”

Upton said he is optimistic about his former colleague’s chances and said he believes Newhouse is the type of lawmaker who should remain in Congress.

“He’s got an unblemished record. He’s honest as the day is long. He’s the type of people that voters ought to want in a responsible position like a member of Congress,” Upton said. “He’ll be able to sell that back home. But it’s likely going to be a rough couple of months.

“And it raises questions on the personal side: Is it worth it?”

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Paul Kane contributed to this report.