SC state Rep. Russell Fry launches primary bid against Rice over impeachment vote
South Carolina state Rep. Russell Fry (R) said that he will launch a primary challenge to Rep. Tom Rice (R-S.C.) Thursday in large part over Rice’s vote to impeach former President Trump after the Jan. 6 insurrection.
Fry, in an interview with The Hill, accused Rice of breaking his constituents’ trust with the vote and cast himself as a staunch ally of the former president.
“Tom Rice broke the trust of the people of the Pee Dee and the Grand Strand when he voted the way that he did, and the people here deserve a conservative congressman they can trust, and one who enthusiastically supports the America First agenda,” Fry said.
Rice was one of 10 House Republicans who voted to impeach Trump over his role in inciting the Jan. 6 riot when a mob of his supporters unsuccessfully sought to halt Congress’s certification of the 2020 Electoral College results.
Rice’s vote was a surprising one given his conservative voting record, and the fact that he had not been vocally critical of Trump prior to the impeachment proceedings. Rice voted with Trump 94 percent of the time, according to FiveThirtyEight.
Since January, a slew of Republicans has clamored for the chance to oust Rice in South Carolina’s ruby red 7th Congressional District, where the GOP nomination is tantamount to a ticket to Congress.
Rice won reelection in 2020 by about 24 points.
Fry, who has served in the state House since 2015, said it was Rice’s impeachment vote over any perceived break from GOP policy that led him to jump into the race.
“Certainly, there were differences of opinion on the debt ceiling and things like that, where I might have voted the other way, but the biggest issue that conservatives are telling me and that I’m hearing all across from the coast to the rural communities is a lack of faith in their congressman,” Fry said.
Fry, 36, said he would look to differentiate himself from the rest of the primary field by running an “aggressive” campaign showcasing his conservative bona fides. In the state House, he’s looked to move legislation bolstering gun rights and restricting abortion access, among others on issues.
But more than that, Fry’s candidacy underscores the role Trump plays as the de facto head of the GOP.
“We’ve seen that play out,” he said when asked if Republicans who criticize Trump could see their electoral prospects dim. “Obviously, the voters themselves are livid at those who have weighed in and voted for impeachment and other things, and so the voters will have their say.”
Rice’s campaign did not immediately respond to a request for comment from The Hill.
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