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Republican who backed Trump impeachment tries to stay afloat with focus on economy

Rep. Tom Price's opponent, state Rep. Russell Fry, is endorsed by former President Trump.


As one of the six Republicans who voted for then-President Trump's impeachment after the 2021 attack on the Capitol, South Carolina Republican Rep. Tom Rice has his work cut out for him in his Republican primary.

So with his top challenger, state Rep. Russell Fry, backed by Trump and repeatedly attacking Rice for his lack of fealty to the former president, Rice has taken to the airwaves to try to turn his race into a referendum on taxes and rising prices.

Rice is out with a new ad on Friday that echoes a theme he's been running with all year — blaming Fry for rising taxes and gas prices as the economy remains a top issue in the fall. While most Republicans have used the issue to hit Democrats and President Biden, Rice's push is a clear hope that a focus on kitchen-table issues will help shift the conversation away from attacks on his Trump bona fides.

Rice's attacks center in part on criticizing Fry for the state legislature's 2017 gas-tax hike, an override of Gov. Henry McMaster's veto, aimed at boosting money for infrastructure projects. The ads also pick out proposals by the legislature — like a failed attempt to woo the Carolina Panthers to move the team's practice field to the state with tax breaks — to call Fry a "tax and spender."

Fry has defended against those attacks throughout the primary by pointing to his support for tax cuts and for suspending the state's gas tax.

His ads have highlighted his support from and for Trump, notably portraying Rice at "villain's anonymous" talking about his impeachment vote with other villains like the Devil and The Joker from the comic Batman.

And in a forum with The Post and Courier this month, Fry argued that Rice hasn't been fighting hard enough for social issues and that "we need warriors in Washington, not wallflowers."