Utah Republicans are reportedly weighing whether or not to censure the state’s junior senator, Mitt Romney, over his vote to convict President Donald Trump during last week’s impeachment trial.
The Salt Lake City Tribune first broke the news on Monday that a resolution had begun circulating among members of the state GOP accusing Romney of having failed to “represent the average conservative Utah Republican voter.” The resolution, whose authors remain unknown, further claims that Romney “embarrassed” Utah by being the only Republican to vote in favor of convicting Trump twice.
“Senator Willard Mitt Romney used and uses his senatorial power and influence to undermine [former] Republican President Donald J. Trump,” the resolution reads, adding that Romney “appears to be an agent for the Establishment Deep State.”
It is unclear if the resolution will be adopted by the Utah GOP. Romney, who was the Republican presidential nominee in 2012, was first elected to the Senate in 2018. Despite being a former governor of Massachusetts, Romney won the seat by more than 32 percentage points in a year that heavily favored Democrats.
During his first two years in the Senate, Romney often broke with fellow Republicans, especially when it came to the Trump administration. Most notably, the senator voted to convict Trump during the president’s first impeachment trial in February 2020. At the time, Romney argued that Trump had besmirched the “national character” by supposedly asking the government of Ukraine to investigate the Biden family’s business dealings with one of eastern Europe’s top energy conglomerates.
While the vote was praised by many on the left as a display of “moral courage,” it failed to ensure Trump’s conviction. Romney in fact was the only Republican to cross party lines and support conviction. The final tally, in fact, did not come close to the 67 votes needed for conviction.
Since that first impeachment trial, Romney’s standing among Utah Republicans has been heavily impacted. A poll conducted in October 2020 found that the senator’s job approval rating back home was nearly evenly split, with 50 percent approving of his tenure and 49 percent disapproving. At the time, 84 percent of respondents considering themselves “strong” Republicans said they disapproved of Romney’s conduct.
The senator’s position was only undercut when the results of the 2020 presidential election became clear. Although Trump lost the White House marginally to President Joe Biden, he carried Utah with more than 58 percent of the vote. The landslide win seemed to indicate to some on the right that Utah was firmly behind the former president rather than their junior senator. Romney’s allies, however, have pushed back on that logic, arguing that the senator carried the state by a higher margin in his 2018 race.
Romney’s vote on Saturday to convict Trump for allegedly “inciting an insurrection” at the United States Capitol on January 6, appears to have only further antagonized members of the GOP base. The senator, though, is not the only target of such anger.
Of the seven Republicans that voted to convict Trump, nearly all of them are facing censure at the hands of their state’s respective GOP organization.
On Monday alone, the North Carolina Republican Party announced that it would vote on a resolution rebuking the state’s senior senator, Richard Burr, for voting to convict Trump.