Here is my full column that ran in the Washington County Daily News earlier this week.
Wisconsin Congressman Mike Gallagher has had quite a week. After a controversial vote against impeaching Homeland Security Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas, Gallagher made the surprise announcement that he will not be seeking reelection. The moment says a lot about where the Republican base is right now.
For background, according to the U.S. Border Patrol, they encountered an all-time record 302,034 people illegally crossing our southern border in December of 2023. During President Biden’s term, the Border Patrol has encountered more people every year than the year before for a whopping total of over seven million illegal border crossers. The vast majority of illegal border crossers were released into the interior of the country. That is more people than currently live in 34 of our 50 states. This number only includes the people that Border Control encountered. It does not include the countless people who evaded detection. In other words, our border is wide open. Ignoring their legal and moral responsibility to implement the law to secure our border, the Biden Administration has deliberately opened our nation’s borders. Biden has all of the legal authority and responsibility to secure the border at any time but refuses to do so. The result is that millions of indigent people are tearing social safety nets and committing crimes in communities all over our nation. People are frustrated. Angry. Enter Secretary Mayorkas. Mayorkas is the chief implementer of Biden’s openborder policy. He has spent years ignoring, obstructing, and misleading Congress in his quest to erase America’s geographic sovereignty. For this, the Republicans, who only control a single house of Congress, sought to impeach Mayorkas as the face, and chief architect, of Biden’s open border.
Impeachment is a political tool granted to the House of Representatives by the Constitution to be used against anyone in the other two branches of government. It is one of the famed “checks” that creates “balance” in our system of government. The criteria for impeachment are intentionally vague because it is a political tool — not a legal one.
Even though the Democrat majority in the Senate would never convict Mayorkas, the House Republican leadership sought to impeach Mayorkas to vent the frustration of their constituents and use the most powerful tool available to them to try to check the Executive Branch’s wonton disregard for the laws it is charged to faithfully implement.
Gallagher voted against impeaching Mayorkas and it failed by a narrow margin. Gallagher’s reasoning was sincere, but flawed. He aspires to a higher standard for impeachment that the Democrats abandoned long ago and is not appropriate for the seriousness of the border crisis and Mayorkas’ role in it.
The reaction to Gallagher’s vote from Republican voters and moderates was immediate and vicious — perhaps overly so, but reflective of the pent-up frustration and anger about Biden’s border treachery. Republican voters are looking for elected Republicans to use every tool available to fight for a secure border. We are sick and tired of watching elected Republicans latibulate when our country needs people to fight for it.
Gallagher took both barrels of that gurgling anger. Although he did not state this reaction as the reason, he announced that he will not seek reelection a couple of days after his vote. Gallagher was a rising Republican star with legitimate conservative credibility, but this singular vote has most likely ended his political career.
The silver lining for Wisconsin Republicans is that Gallagher’s precipitous announcement makes the race to replace him an open seat in the Republican-leaning Fox Valley. That region of Wisconsin has increasingly become the bellwether of Republican statewide elections and a hotly contested race for Congress may drive Republican turnout for their attempt to oust Senator Tammy Baldwin.