‘The Heart and Soul of America’
South Carolinians demanding that Mr. Rice object to the election results had been jamming the phones at his congressional office for weeks, and one day in the lead-up to the Jan. 6 vote he answered a call himself.
“She just lit into me for 30 minutes about how there were truckloads of absentee ballots, unsigned, that were accepted — all these allegations you read in QAnon,” Mr. Rice said in an interview. “It was very, very high-intensity at that time.”
A former Myrtle Beach tax lawyer and accountant, Mr. Rice, 65, had been elected to local office with the Tea Party wave in 2010 and to Congress two years later. At a Trump campaign event, he called the 2020 election “a battle for the heart and soul of America,” predicted that Democrats would not “play fair” and urged Republicans to get out every vote. He carried the district by 24 points, even besting Mr. Trump’s margin.
Mr. Rice is a typical objector in many ways. They are disproportionately white, male and Christian, whether compared with the general public or with Congress as a whole. Out of the 139 House lawmakers, 17 are women, seven Black or Latino and two Jewish. (Three have died since they cast their votes, and one has resigned from Congress.)
Because of partisan gerrymandering and a decades-long sorting of Americans into like-minded communities — North or South, urban or rural — all but a half-dozen objectors represent districts so solidly Republican that a primary challenge is the only meaningful electoral contest they may face, even though more than one-third come from blue or battleground states.
Like other members of Congress, many pursued professional careers before moving to Capitol Hill — as accountants, lawyers, doctors, dentists. Three dozen have military experience, and more than half hold an advanced degree, including three with Ph.D.s (in animal nutrition, British history and public policy). About 18 — Ms. Boebert and Mr. Mullin among them — never earned a traditional four-year degree, according to their congressional bios.
Following the pattern of the larger Republican caucus, about half were first elected on Mr. Trump’s coattails. About a third had not held prior elected office. Though some, like Mr. Rice, reside in cities, they often live in more rural locations.