State and Local GOPs Are Slamming Republicans Who Voted to Convict Trump

“We did not send him there to vote his conscience,” one Pennsylvania GOP chair said of Sen. Richard Burr.
February 16, 2021, 2:17pm
Sen. Richard Burr, left, and Sen. Bill Cassidy, Right.
Left, Senator Richard Burr, a Republican from North Carolina speaks during confirmation hearing in Washington, D.C., U.S., on Thursday, Feb. 4, 2021. (Photographer: Mandel Ngan/AFP/Bloomberg via Getty Images) Right, Sen. Bill Cassidy (R-LA) talks with reporters as he leaves the Capitol after the first day of former President Donald Trump's second impeachment trial February 09, 2021 in Washington, DC. (Photo by Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images)

If Republican senators who voted to convict former President Donald Trump over the weekend were expecting praise in their home states for doing the right thing, they’ll be waiting for a long time.

Seven Republicans joined all 50 Senate Democrats in voting to convict Trump for inciting an insurrection during his second impeachment trial. 

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Of that group, Sens. Richard Burr of North Carolina and Bill Cassidy of Louisiana were censured by their state Republican parties this weekend for their votes, while Sens. Ben Sasse of Nebraska and Pat Toomey of Pennsylvania have been censured by county-level GOPs. And Sen. Susan Collins could face statewide censures in the coming weeks.

The North Carolina GOP’s central committee “unanimously” voted to censure Burr on Sunday, on the grounds that “the Democrat-led attempt to impeach a former President lies outside the United States Constitution.” 

A censure is largely symbolic, but Burr hit back at the rebuke, calling it a “truly sad day for North Carolina Republicans.”

“My party’s leadership has chosen loyalty to one man over the core principles of the Republican Party and the founders of our great nation,” he said in a statement. Burr is not running for re-election next year.

In Louisiana, Sen. Bill Cassidy, who was easily reelected to a second six-year term in November, was censured by the state’s GOP in an executive committee vote taken just hours after the impeachment trial ended on Saturday. Earlier in the day, the organization said it condemned Cassidy’s vote “in the strongest possible terms.”

Sen. Pat Toomey of Pennsylvania  was censured by several county-level GOPs following his vote to convict Trump, and the state GOP chair told county chairs that a meeting would be held soon to discuss the Senate vote. That meeting is expected to include discussion on whether or censure Toomey, according to the Associated Press.. 

“We did not send him there to vote his conscience,” Washington County Republican Party chair Dave Ball told a local CBS affiliate. “We did not send him there to do the right thing, whatever he said he was doing. We sent him there to represent us, and we feel very strongly that he did not represent us.”

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Toomey, like Burr, is not running for re-election in 2022. 

Sen. Ben Sasse of Nebraska has been censured by several county Republican Party committees and the state party will consider at least eight resolutions calling for his censure next month, according to the Associated Press. Sen. Susan Collins could also face censure from the Maine Republican Party soon, according to the Bangor Daily News, after the state party chair told members “to be prepared for an emergency state committee meeting in the near future.” 

Only one of the seven who voted to convict Trump, Alaska Sen. Lisa Murkowski, is up for reelection in 2022. As of Monday, Murkowski had been censured by several local Republican groups in Alaska, according to the conservative blog Must Read Alaska. (The Alaska GOP did not immediately respond to a question asking if they were considering a censure of Murkowski.) 

But she has survived political setbacks before—Murkowski lost a primary challenge in 2010, and mounted a successful write-in campaign that year to retain her seat. 

The only Senate Republican who appears to have gotten off relatively easy from fellow party members back home is Sen. Mitt Romney. The Utah GOP said Romney’s vote to convict Trump and fellow Utah Sen. Mike Lee’s vote to acquit “showcase a diversity of thought.”

“There is power in our differences as a political party, and we look forward to each senator explaining their votes to the people of Utah,” the party said in a statement to CNN.