SOUTHWEST WASHINGTON — The intra-party backlash against Southwest Washington’s Rep. Jaime Herrera Beutler has been swift, after she was one of just 10 Republicans in the U.S. House of Representatives who voted to impeach President Donald Trump last week.
Over the weekend, the Washington State Republican Central Committee passed a resolution that condemned Trump’s impeachment, “without question or exception.” The resolution expressed “particular disappointment” that Herrera Beutler, along with Rep. Dan Newhouse (WA-04), voted to impeach Trump for his role in inciting a mob of his supporters that stormed the U.S. Capitol, which left five people — including a Capitol Police officer — dead.
In announcing that she would vote to impeach Trump, Herrera Beutler said there was “indisputable evidence” that his actions were impeachable. In addition to saying he incited a violent riot, Herrera Beutler torched Trump for his hours of inaction after the mob stormed the Capitol, including a video posted on Twitter where he called the rioters “special” and said that he loved them, as well as condemning Vice President Mike Pence in a tweet in the midst of the insurrection.
“I understand the argument that the best course is not to further inflame the country or alienate Republican voters. But I am also a Republican voter,” Herrera Beutler said in a Jan. 12 statement. “I believe in our Constitution, individual liberty, free markets, charity, life, justice, peace and this exceptional country. I see that my own party will be best served when those among us choose truth.”
The reaction to Herrera Beutler’s vote from some Republican-aligned groups in Southwest Washington has also been harsh, including promises that Herrera Beutler will face a conservative opponent in the 2022 primaries if she runs for reelection.
After announcing her plans to vote to impeach Trump, the Clark County Republican Women’s group said in a letter to Herrera Beutler on Jan. 13 that she will never receive the group’s support or votes again.
“Additionally, we will do everything in our power as the largest Republican Women’s organization in Washington state to recruit and elect a conservative candidate who will represent our values,” the group said. “On behalf of our entire membership, the CCRW Executive Board is unified in condemning your actions to betray a sitting Republican President. And this vote will never be forgotten, as your action is a personal affront to the 70 million plus Americans who voted for our President.”
Joel Mattila, chair of the Clark County Republican Party, told Oregon Public Broadcasting last week that he has been hearing disappointment locally across the Republican political spectrum over Herrera Beutler’s vote.
“I think it most certainly is going to impact her. There is major disappointment in the rank-and-file of the Republican Party with her,” Mattila told OPB.
Among party leaders in Pacific County, the reaction was more muted. In a letter, Nansen Malin, chair of the Pacific County Republican Party, asked for feedback from grassroots members about Herrera Beutler’s vote. She said her phone has been like a “firehose,” with people calling her on both sides of the debate to share their opinion.
“There are some who are good with the vote, and some who are not,” Malin said.