Rep. Fred Upton (R-Mich.) was the fourth House GOP lawmaker to drop his re-election bid out of 10 who voted to impeach Donald Trump for the Capitol riot. Upton announced his retirement earlier this month.
Speaking to NBC News’ Meet the Press on Sunday, the veteran lawmaker suggested the growing influence of far-right voices in Congress was the most significant he’s seen since taking office.
‘Lauren Boebert, and Marjorie Taylor Green, and Paul Gosar, is that a different element than you’ve ever seen before?’ host Chuck Todd asked.
Upton answered, ‘I don’t think we’ve had as many folks in that sort of wing of the party elected as we have before, but I think they’re very popular back at home.’
Pressed on what that meant for the party, the Michigan congressman said, ‘Troubled waters I guess you could say.’
But that same day, House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.) gave a far sunnier outlook on the GOP’s chances in the midterm elections.
‘I’ve never seen our party more united. We’re not focused on individual. We’re focused on the country first, and the policies,’ he said on Fox News Sunday.
Longtime Michigan Rep. Fred Upton is retiring at the end of this year. He’s the fourth GOP lawmaker who voted for Trump’s impeachment to retire while facing a primary challenger backed by the ex-president
‘Our problems are too big to fight among ourselves and think so small, and that’s exactly what we’re doing — putting this country first to solve our problems.’
During a wide-ranging interview on Fox’s Sunday news program, the House Republican chief flatly denied reports of party infighting — and that he himself was facing challenges to his leadership role.
Asked if he intends to run for Speaker of the House should Republicans take back the majority, McCarthy avoided answering directly.
‘That’s an opportunity. The first and foremost responsibility is to take that House back, but we will be prepared to govern,’ he said.
McCarthy currently oversees a caucus that appears divided over the future of the GOP. Conservatives and establishment Republicans are attempting to woo voters on traditional issues like the economy and border security, while a growing number of lawmakers who believe the 2020 election was stolen from Donald Trump call on the party to look back and investigate the race.
Still, another narrowing list of lawmakers are still adamant Trump critics who are clinging to their seats, though many face Trump-backed primary challengers.
Upton is one of those representatives who dropped out after the former president endorsed another Republican. However on Sunday he blamed redistricting for the decision.
GOP Leader Kevin McCarthy claimed Republicans will hold Biden accountable and claimed they have never been ‘more unified’ despite reports of infighting
He still believes his party will flip enough Democratic seats to govern as the majority in 2023 — albeit Upton warns it will be ‘very difficult’ to do so without a decisive majority, given the current divides.
Host Todd asked, ‘Can Kevin McCarthy both represent you and Marjorie Taylor Greene?’
‘He can if he gets the margin. That’s why this over/under number is so important. Are we going to be over or under 230?’ Upton answered.
‘It will be very hard to govern for Republicans if we’re under 230, knowing that we’ve got the MTG element that’s really not a part of a governing majority,’ he added, referring to Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene (R-Ga.).
So far 31 House Democrats have announced they are leaving their seats to retire or run for another office at the end of this year. Just 18 Republicans are doing the same.
That, combined with Democrats’ low poll numbers and failure to pass President Joe Biden’s Build Back Better agenda are factors that election watchers say will set up for a red wave in November.
On Sunday, McCarthy vowed Republicans would hold the president ‘accountable’ once they take back the majority.
When asked about far-right members of Congress like Reps. Marjorie Taylor Greene (left), Lauren Boebert (right) or Paul Gosar, Upton said their growing numbers mean ‘troubled waters’ for the GOP
He dodged a question on whether moderates like Upton’s retirement are a negative statement on the GOP.
‘Well, if you look at who’s retiring in Congress, there’s 31 Democrats retirement, that’s the highest number since 1992. There’s a reason why — because they’re not even agreeing with their own policies,’ McCarthy said instead.
‘What we find in the Republicans that we will have a very clear common sense alternative.’
But Upton believes that like Democrats, whose infighting between moderates and progressives helped tank key points of BIden’s agenda, the lack of a decisive majority could hinder Republicans’ ability to get work done.
After voting to impeach Trump after January 6, Upton again crossed party lines when he voted in favor of Biden’s $1.2 trillion bipartisan infrastructure compromise.
He later revealed he and his family were getting death threats after the bill passed.
Upton admitted on NBC Sunday that he’s never seen the level of threats that he’s gotten this past year, and expressed concern that such a climate could discourage qualified candidates from running for office.
‘Yeah, well, death threats, I mean, they never were like we had this last year. But it was pretty crazy,’ he said.
Upton continued, ‘It’s going to be a detriment getting good people to run. It really will be.’
‘It puts you at risk, particularly when they threaten not only you – and I like to think I’m pretty fast – but when they threaten your spouse or your kids, or whatever, that’s what really makes it frightening.’