Wisconsin GOP House member may get primary challenge after voting not to impeach Mayorkas

Mike Gallagher

Republican U.S. Rep. Mike Gallagher could be facing a primary challenge in Wisconsin’s 8th Congressional District after he voted against impeaching Department of Homeland Security Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas.

Alex Bruesewitz, a conservative activist who helped organize the “Stop the Steal” effort to overturn the 2020 presidential election results, told the Daily Beast that he is mulling a primary bid against Gallagher. Bruesewitz

“Mike is completely out of touch,” Bruesewitz said in the interview. “He is not the type of fighter that our party needs right now. And the voters of Wisconsin’s [8th district] will have the opportunity to hold him accountable.”

Bruesewitz added: “We are going to be taking a very serious look. We will be hosting multiple events. We’ll be bringing in MAGA allies in and out of the district. And we’re gonna be testing the waters.”

Gallagher was one of just four Republicans to vote against impeaching Mayorkas, enough to sink the GOP’s effort due to Republicans’ small majority in the House. 

He said he voted against impeaching Mayorkas because he did not believe that the charges GOP lawmakers levied against him were impeachable offenses and that impeaching him would set a “dangerous new precedent that will be used against future Republican administrations.”

“Creating a new, lower standard for impeachment, one without any clear limiting principle, won’t secure the border or hold Mr. Biden accountable. It would only pry open the Pandora’s box of perpetual impeachment,” Gallagher wrote in an op-ed published in the Wall Street Journal. 

In his op-ed, Gallagher compared the Mayorkas impeachment to the impeachments of former President Donald Trump, which he also opposed because, he claimed, they were hyperpartisan and “lowered the bar for what constitutes an impeachable offense.”

Gallagher’s words did not appease conservative officials in his district.

“I can no longer tolerate nor support someone who will not follow his constitutional duties and the wishes of his constituents,” Oconto County GOP chair Ken Sikora, who is in Gallagher’s district, wrote in a letter to other Republican county chairs, the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel reported. “I am calling on all District 8 Chairs to unite and condemn this betrayal.”

Gallagher said that his vote should not have come as a surprise to House Republican leadership and that Speaker Mike Johnson (R-LA) shouldn’t have put the impeachment resolution on the floor knowing it would fail.

“I was not undecided. I whipped ‘no’ for over a month. So, nobody was surprised about my vote,” Gallagher said in an interview with right-wing radio host Hugh Hewitt, CNN reported. “It is unclear why we barreled ahead with a vote knowing that the votes weren’t there.”

It’s unclear whether Bruesewitz will enter the race.

Whoever emerges from the GOP primary in the 8th District is likely to be the victor in November. The district voted for Trump by a 15-point margin in 2020.