The Republican Party of Kentucky voted down a resolution calling on Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell to oppose impeachment charges against former President Donald Trump.
The longshot petition shows that the vast majority of the state’s GOP leadership isn’t willing to force McConnell’s hand on the impeachment issue, though a large number of Republicans are worried he will move to convict the former president.
Over the weekend, members of the Republican State Central Committee held a special meeting to consider the proposal submitted by several local party leaders calling for McConnell to “stand with President Trump and publicly condemn this divisive and unnecessary second impeachment.”
In a statement, Kentucky Republican party officials said a “small group of individuals” requested the resolution.
“As a political party, we’re in a unique position to bring all sides of our organization together to have conversations about the direction we are going in and what we expect from our elected officials,” RPK communications director Mike Lonergan wrote.
“In the end it is our intention to return our focus to bringing civility to the party and continue having larger conversations about how we can attract more voters and grow our party.”
The state Republican party’s central committee is made up of more than 350 people, but a special meeting can be triggered by a petition from more than 25 people. There were 28 petitioners for this resolution.
The measure was ultimately defeated 134-49, but the vote exposes a rift within the Republican Party following Trump’s defeat in last year’s election and combative departure from office.
McConnell rebuked Trump on the former president’s penultimate day in office, saying the rioters at the U.S. Capitol earlier this month were “provoked by the president and other people.”
Now the top elected Republican in the nation, McConnell’s speech sent shockwaves through the party as he and other Senate Republicans consider whether to convict Trump during his impeachment trial in the Senate next month.
Kentucky voted 62% in favor of Trump in the 2020 election, and he still holds majority support among some Republicans, according to a recent Morning Consult poll.
Don Thrasher, chair of the Nelson County Republican Party, rallied support ahead of the vote for the resolution calling on McConnell to support the former president during the trial.
He said top Republicans in the state are afraid of breaking ranks with McConnell.
“Mitch McConnell runs the legislators of this state. He determines what goes in, what goes out, anything and everything about it, he’ll cut off their money. And that’s why they’re petrified,” Thrasher said.
“The average tax-paying Republican that I know does not like half the stuff Mitch McConnell does. He does it for corporate interests, he does it for big money and it’s counterproductive to what the average person wants.”
Thrasher said he’s now trying to pushKentucky’s local Republican parties to censure McConnell.
“If we can get over half the counties I think that’d make a statement. It’s just telling RPK to shove it,” Thrasher said.
It would take 17 Republican senators to join all 50 Democrats in order to convict the president on charges that he incited an insurrection at the U.S. Capitol on Jan. 6.