Opinion: A trio of House GOP women could alter the outcome of the 2022 election

Let’s begin with Cheney, the daughter of former Vice President Dick Cheney, who now chairs the House Republican Conference and serves as the third highest-ranking member in House GOP leadership.

Cheney’s vote, along with that of nine other Republicans, to impeach former President Donald Trump for his role in the Capitol insurrection, riled her fellow House Republicans. A group of House Republicans even attempted to remove her from GOP leadership but were rebuffed in a 145-61 secret ballot last week.
Cheney amplified her support for Trump’s impeachment on Fox News this Sunday. She issued a blistering condemnation of the former president, saying that his lies directly led to the deadly attack on the Capitol. Further, she stated that Republicans must be “the party of truth,” and that the “single greatest threat to our republic is a president who would put his own self-interest above the Constitution, above the national interest.”
Still, for Cheney and the nine other Republicans who voted to impeach Trump, it is events in their districts that will shape the 2022 elections. Trump loyalists in Wyoming are incensed with Cheney. And, so far, seven of the 10 Republicans are already facing challengers. It is likely the remaining three, Rep. John Katko of New York, Rep. Jaime Herrera Beutler of Washington and Rep. Fred Upton of Michigan, could also face challenges. And Katko risks losing the all-important Conservative Party endorsement in New York, on whose line he received 21,062 votes — 60% of his 34,929 vote-winning margin.
Thus far, six of the 10 members have been censured for their impeachment vote by a combination of local and state party Republican groups, further increasing these members’ vulnerability in primary elections.

Of course, a lot can happen between now and the spring of 2022, when several of these members will compete in primaries to hold onto their seats. In the case of these Republicans, the later the primary, the better. It will give members more time to build a record of vigorously opposing liberal excesses by the Biden administration and House Democrats, thereby providing a powerful counterbalance to an impeachment vote cast many months in the past.

The composition of the primary electorate is also a crucial factor. Six of the states from which they hail — Illinois, Michigan, Ohio, South Carolina, Washington and Wyoming — allow voters unaffiliated with a party or who register with a party on the day of the primary to participate in their Republican primaries. This enables Cheney and several of her colleagues to expand the primary voting electorate to include non-traditional Republican voters who often vote the person, rather than the party. Only New York and California (which Katko and David Valadao represent, respectively) are limited to exclusively Republican voters in their primaries.

Finally, for the GOP 10, next to Cheney in outspokenness is Illinois Rep. Adam Kinzinger, who along with California’s Valadao, has the earliest primary — in March 2022. Consequently, the survival of Kinzinger in an open primary and Valadao in a closed primary will be powerful indicators of how the rest of the GOP 10 will fare against their challengers.

Next, there is the case of Greene. Most political news consumers are aware of her previously stated beliefs in absurd conspiracy theories (several of which she has recently disavowed), her devotion to Trump’s big lie about a stolen election and her threats on social media against House Democrats. The recent action by House Democrats and 11 House Republicans to strip her of committee assignments will help deprive her of additional congressional platforms from which to air her outlandish views. Now, she will be relegated to being a member of what I would call the “loudmouth caucus.”

That said, so long as she is in Congress and can espouse her radical ideas, Greene will remain a liability for the GOP, because she will give Democrats and political pundits the opportunity to portray her as representative of Republican Party as a whole. If, however unlikely it may be, she refocuses her efforts on articulating a populist (and accurate) alternative to Biden and House Democrat proposals, then she may be of service to the party.

The fight over Marjorie Taylor Greene poses a threat to the entire country
But until Greene proves she has changed tact, the congressional action against Greene, the barring of Trump and other conspiracy theorists from reputable social media platform, and the recent cancellation of Trump-enabler Lou Dobbs’ television show on Fox News, are a welcome trend of pushback against cancerous elements undermining democracy and civil society. They are also the best way forward for the party: continue to respectfully, yet forcefully, discredit the stolen election lie, while focusing voters’ attention on new GOP policy ideas and opposing Democratic overspending. Indeed, Cheney took this exact approach in her Fox News interview.
Then there is Tenney, recently declared the winner in the nation’s last outstanding congressional race. Tenney represents the final House seat the GOP gained in 2020, and all without losing a single incumbent. This now gives House Speaker Nancy Pelosi only a 221-211 margin in the House, until two Louisiana special elections are held on March 20 and taking into account the this week’s death of Rep. Ron Wright of Texas. This math means Pelosi can only lose a handful of Democratic votes on any issue, which signifies, at best, a tenuous control over the US House.
Tenney’s victory is a rebuke of the dominant narrative that says the GOP has a gender and diversity issue. Nineteen of the new GOP members are women, more than doubling the number of Republican women in the House. Among them are military veterans, Hispanics, Korean-Americans and a Native American. Of the newly elected men who defeated Democrat incumbents, one is African American, one is Portuguese American and one is Cuban American. These results are encouraging for the party and indicate Republicans can still be quite competitive.
Additionally, Republicans gained a governorship, two state legislative chambers and now control almost two-thirds of the nation’s state legislatures, providing a needed antidote to losing the presidency, the US Senate and the US House, courtesy of Donald Trump. Moreover, it puts the GOP securely in command of the upcoming national redistricting process that will draw the lines for the 2022 congressional and state legislative seats.

So, it is game on for control of the US House in 2022. The GOP path forward is not simple given internal party conflicts and discordant voices. But Tenney and her diverse freshman class, along with the remarkable gains made by Republicans in 2020 at the state and local level, provide a solid foundation for the GOP’s fondest dream: dethroning Pelosi as the speaker of the House of Representatives.

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