Louisiana Republican Sen. Bill Cassidy still working to win back Trump loyalists
When Republican U.S. Sen. Bill Cassidy returned home from Washington this week to speak to the Louisiana Legislature he found a cold shoulder from House GOP Caucus Chairman Blake Miguez.
"In case you think we forgot about (Cassidy's) vote to impeach President Trump, we haven't," Miguez told reporters on press row after he was among some Republicans in the chamber who didn't applaud Cassidy after his speech.
It's a scene that's playing out across the country where Trump loyalists are showing they have long memories for those who they consider betrayed the former president during his second House impeachment and ensuing Senate trial in February.
Cassidy was one of six Senate Republicans to join all 50 Democrats voting to convict Trump on Feb. 13 for inciting the Jan. 6 insurrection at the Capitol, but the former president was acquitted because it takes a two-thirds vote to convict.
Wyoming Rep. Liz Cheney, one of 10 Republicans in the House to vote in favor of impeachment, may lose her GOP leadership position because of her continued insistence that Trump lost a fair election.
This week Louisiana U.S. Rep. Steve Scalise, the No. 2-ranking Republican in the House, became the first to signal he supports Cheney's removal from her GOP leadership position.
Cheney, who was censured by her own party back home, wrote a blistering Washington Post editorial Wednesday in which she framed the Republican Party as "at a turning point" in whether it will choose "truth and fidelity to the Constitution" or the "cult of personality" of Trump.
And last week Republican U.S. Sen. Mitt Romney, once the GOP nominee for president, was booed and heckled by more than 2,000 Republican delegates at the Utah GOP state convention because of his vote to convict Trump and his continued criticism of the former president.
“Aren’t you embarrassed?” Romney said on stage. “You can boo all you like. I’ve been a Republican all of my life. My dad was the governor of Michigan and I was the Republican nominee for president in 2012.”
It's a sign that time may not heal the wounds of Trump supporters even if their Republican members of Congress are otherwise reliable conservative votes like Cassidy, who had been in lock step with the former president before impeachment.
"There are people (Cassidy) will never win back; people who will be perpetually steamed over that vote," said Mike Bayham, a member of the Louisiana Republican Party's executive committee. "But in fairness, since that vote (Cassidy) has stood with conservatives on every important issue."
Bayham helped to organize a censure for Cassidy from the state party less than an hour after his vote to convict the president. The Bossier Parish Republican Party was among local GOP organizations that followed suit, holding Cassidy up as "an object of extreme shame" in its rebuke.
"I don't think Sen. Cassidy was under any illusion that many Republicans will never let him off the hook," Bayham said.
It's something Cassidy himself wrote in a February guest column published by the USA Today Network in which he defended his vote.
"I have no illusions that this is a popular decision," wrote Cassidy, who also told reporters he is "at peace" with his vote.
Time will tell if Trump loyalists' anger will mellow toward Cassidy and the other Republican members of Congress who voted to impeach or convict.
And time is on Cassidy's side.
After winning reelection in a landslide last fall, Cassidy won't have to go before voters again until 2026.
Greg Hilburn covers state politics for the USA TODAY Network of Louisiana. Follow him on Twitter @GregHilburn1.