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Primaries: Rep. Tom Rice loses GOP backing in S.C.; Texas seat flips to GOP

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Primaries: Rep. Tom Rice loses GOP backing in S.C.; Texas seat flips to GOP
A handful of states held primary races on Tuesday to settle the contests that will be on the ballot in November. Photo by Ken Cedeno/UPI | License Photo

June 14 (UPI) -- South Carolina Rep. Tom Rice -- who voted to impeach former President Donald Trump for inciting the Jan. 6 attack at the U.S. Capitol -- lost the support of the Republican Party on Tuesday as a handful of states held primaries to narrow races this fall.

Rice, who represents South Carolina's 7th House District, came under sharp criticism from his party for being one of only 10 Republicans to vote for Trump's impeachment after pro-Trump radicals attacked the Capitol building in a bid to overturn the 2020 election results.

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In January, the South Carolina Republican Party formally censured Rice for the vote and said it was tantamount to "a political kick on the way out the door." The next day, Trump called Rice a "coward" who "must be thrown out of office ASAP" in a statement that endorsed state Rep. Russell Fry for the House seat.

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Early on Wednesday, state data showed that Fry won nearly 52% of the vote, compared to less than 25% for Rice in a seven-candidate field.

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However, South Carolina also handed the former president a loss when incumbent Rep. Nancy Mace fended off Trump-endorsed challenger Katie Arrington in the state's 1st House District.

Mace, however, did not vote to impeach Trump -- but she'd drawn his wrath for criticizing his role in the Capitol attack. In his endorsement for Arrington, Trump called Mace "very disloyal."

Mace won about 53% of the vote to Arrington's 45% in the three-candidate field, with nearly all precincts reporting.

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A Trafalgar Group poll released in late May had Fry with a 17-point advantage over Rice and Mace ahead of Arrington by 5%.

In Maine, former Rep. Bruce Poliquin bested Liz Caruso, a selectwoman in the town of Caratunk who compares herself politically to far-right Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene.

The race was called for Poliquin by Bangor Daily News at 61.4% of the vote, compared to Caruso's 38%. Caruso later conceded.

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"Campaigns are tough, but at the end of the day, we are all Republicans, and it's time for all of us to get behind our nominee," she said in a statement. "I will be working hard to make sure Bruce wins this seat, and to make sure rural Maine's voice continues to be heard."

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This November, Poliquin will face independent candidate Tiffany Bond and Democratic Rep. Jared Golden, who defeated Poliquin in 2018. The district encompasses the the vast majority of Maine and is the only district in New England that voted for Trump in 2020.

November's election will include five incumbent Democrats up for re-election in a district won by Trump, according to the University of Virginia's Centers for Politics.

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"We're ready to elect Bruce Poliquin and get rid of Jarden Golden," the Maine Republican Party said in a tweet. "Maine is DONE with Team Biden/Golden."

The candidates in Maine's race for governor ran unopposed in their respective parties -- Democratic Gov. Janet Mills and former Gov. Paul Le Page, a Republican -- so Tuesday's primary was a formality for the nominations.

In Nevada, three of the four congressional seats are expected to be toss-ups in November, all three held by Democrats, according to the Cook Political Report.

Incumbent Rep. Dina Titus was projected by NBC News to beat progressive challenger Amy Vilela, who has Sen. Bernie Sanders' endorsement, for the Democratic nomination for the 1st District.

Titus won more than 80% of the vote, according to incomplete returns.

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FiveThirtyEight said that while it's rare for an incumbent to lose in a primary, Nevada's 1st District race could have led to an upset because the district map was significantly redrawn in 2020. Only about 52% of the district's original residents are still there.

This fall, Titus will face one of several Republicans -- Jane Adams, David Brog, Cresent Hardy, Mark Robertson, Carolina Serrano, Morgun Sholty, Cynthia Dianne Steel or Jessie Turner.

In Nevada's 3rd District, incumbent Democratic Rep. Susie Lee overwhelming defended her seat against challenger Randell Hynes, securing more than 90% of the vote, NBC News reported.

On the Republican side, April Becker, who received several high-profile endorsements, including from the state's Republican Party and House Republican leader Kevin McCarthy, handily beat her field of five candidates.

In the 4th District, the race between GOP Nevada Assemblywoman Annie Black and Sam Peters was not yet called by early Wednesday, but Peters held onto a slight lead. The winner will face incumbent Democratic Rep. Steven Horsford in November.

In Nevada's U.S. Senate race, incumbent Democratic Sen. Catherine Cortez Masto advanced to the November ballot and it appears that she will face Republican and former Nevada Attorney General Adam Laxalt, another Trump endorsee.

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In a special election in Texas, Republican Mayra Flores won the primary for the 34th House District, flipping the seat from Democratic to Republican. Flores, the first Mexican-born woman elected to Congress, will serve out the remainder of Democratic Rep. Filemon Vela's term this year and must run for re-election in November. Vela left Congress to take a job in the private sector.

Flores' victory is alarming for Democrats, as the 34th District has traditionally been heavily Democratic -- another sign that the midterm elections in the fall might sweep Republicans into control of both chambers.

"This historic win will bring back God to the halls of Congress," Flores tweeted in victory. "This win is for the people who were ignored for so long! This is a message that the establishment will no longer be tolerated! We have officially started the red wave!"

This week in Washington

President Joe Biden participates in a virtual meeting with leaders of the Major Economies Forum on Energy and Climate (MEF), at the Eisenhower Executive Office Building on the White House complex on Friday. Biden reconvened leaders of the MEF to discuss setting future emissions standards, energy and food security, and to 'tackle the climate crisis', according to a White House statement. Photo by Michael Reynolds/UPI | License Photo

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