Former President Donald Trump has made another move aimed at punishing members of his party who broke ranks and supported an effort to impeach him earlier this year following the deadly riot at the US Capitol on 6 January.
A statement on Tuesday from the former president endorsed the campaign of Steve Carra, a freshman member of the Michigan state House of Representatives who just a few months into his first term announced the intent to challenge Rep Fred Upton, the US congressman representing Michigan’s 6th congressional district.
The endorsement is not surprising given Mr Upton’s vote to support articles of impeachment against Mr Trump earlier this year, but nevertheless presents an interesting dynamic for the race as Mr Upton, a veteran member of the Michigan congressional delegation with more than three decades of service in Congress, now serving as dean. Absent the inter-party disagreement over the siege of the Capitol, a veteran congressman would likely have little to fear from a primary challenger with less than a year’s experience in the state legislature.
“It is my great honor to endorse Michigan State Representative Steve Carra to oppose RINO [Republican in name only] Congressman Fred Upton. Upton has not done the job that our country needs, for years has talked about leaving office and not running again, and he voted for impeachment of the president of the United States on rigged up charges,” Mr Trump declared on Tuesday.
“He doesn’t deserve to keep his seat. Steve Carra, on the other hand, is strong on crime, borders and loves our military and our vets. Steve will continue to fight for low taxes and all of the other things that the great people of Michigan want and need,” Mr Trump added.
The winner of the 6th District’s Republican primary will have an advantage in the November election to represent the seat in the next congressional term beginning in January 2023, as the district has voted Republican in the last several presidential elections. Mr Upton won reelection in 2020 with 55.8 per cent of the vote, a more than 15-point margin over his Democratic challenger.
A spokesman for Mr Upton reacted to the news of Mr Trump’s endorsement of Mr Carra on Tuesday in a statement to the Detroit News, telling the paper that residents of the district know the congressman’s “record of delivering results for Southwest Michigan”.
“He has a full plate working on rebuilding Michigan’s woeful infrastructure, lowering taxes on hardworking families, securing our border and evacuating Americans and our allies from Afghanistan,” Billy Fuerst told the Detroit News.
Mr Carra reacted as well, telling the newspaper that it was “an honor” to receive the former president’s endorsement and vowing to be a “conservative fighter” for the district.
Mr Trump’s action on Tuesday comes less than a week since his last move to undermine an elected Republican whose loyalty to him wavered during the impeachment effort launched by Congress after his supporters descended upon the Capitol and sought to block the certification of his 2020 election defeat.
Last week, he endorsed the primary challenger aiming to unseat Sen Pat Toomey, who voted to convict the president in his Senate trial which ultimately ended in acquittal. He has also endorsed others, including a challenger hoping to unseat Rep Jaime Herrera Beutler in Washington state.