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He was ready to kill the January 6 rioters.  Now MAGA voters can give him a seat in the Senate
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After helping police barricade the doors to the back of the House chamber, Rep. Markwayne Mullin (R-Okla.) saw the commotion at another door as an officer drew his gun to warn the rioters not to break in.

Mullin prepares for battle.

“If they come through that door, we’re going to engage them very quickly and that engagement would be all it would take to stop them,” the conservative lawmaker recalled in an interview two months after the January 6, 2021 attack. I know I was ready.”

After that attack, Mullin’s colleague, Rep. Rodney Davis (R-Ill.) voted to certify Joe Biden’s victory over Donald Trump, then introduced legislation to create an independent commission to investigate the attacks.

On Tuesday, Republican voters in central Illinois punished Davis for his transgressions against Trump in the primary election. In Oklahoma, GOP voters rewarded Mullin with first place in the first ballot for the Senate nomination, the undisputed favorite in the Aug. 23 runoff in the Trump-loving state.

We just wanted an independent investigation into the insurrection; the other actually looked through broken glass and threatened to kill one of the rioters.

Davis’ political career, for now at least, is over. Mullin, however, looks set to become a conservative star in the more rarefied air of the Senate. Both Republicans declined offers to discuss their careers and GOP policy in the post-January period. 6 world.

Friends since entering Congress together a decade ago, Davis and Mullin form a case study in how image, not necessarily actual votes and action, increasingly determines political outcomes. — especially in the Republican primaries.

How voters perceived the reaction of the two lawmakers to the attack on Capitol Hill could have determined their political fate.

Admittedly, Mullin was more conservative, representing rural eastern Oklahoma when Davis’ home district was a battleground. Davis has a lifetime rating of 53% from the American Conservative Union, while Mullin has received 83% over the same period.

But Mullin is no fire-breathing right-winger: His 79% rating in 2021 ranks just below the 82% mark for the average House Republican.

However, he presents himself as a man ready to do battle with liberal enemies. Built as an NFL linebacker, Mullin, 44, won a wrestling scholarship to Missouri Valley College and competed professionally in mixed martial arts. An enrolled member of the Cherokee Nation, he dropped out of college to take over his family’s plumbing business and enjoyed resounding success with several spin-off businesses, including a steakhouse.

For nearly 10 years, he led a workout group every morning the House is in session, popular with Republicans and Democrats alike.

While his official biography makes no mention of the military, Mullin has hinted that he had some sort of intelligence background. He sat for nearly 30 minutes on the oral history of the attack on the Capitol in March 2021, explaining that his background allowed him to recognize early “something was going on” based on the movements of the police of the Capitol.

“I’ve been in these situations before,” he said, referring to working “abroad,” declining to elaborate further. “I’d rather not.”

Davis, 52, is a more traditional lawmaker. He still lives in Taylorville, where he grew up – less than 30 miles southeast of the State Capitol in Springfield and for 16 years ran the district office of longtime Congressman John Shimkus. . New district lines in 2012, combined with the sudden retirement of an incumbent, allowed local party officials to select Davis as the candidate in a different district.

After a few close calls in the election, Davis became a close ally of House leaders and became the top Republican on the House Administration Committee — a normally quiet outpost where top members earn vouchers with their colleagues. by getting them better offices or parking spaces.

But the insurgency thrust that committee, with its oversight of Capitol security and election laws, into a spotlight it had never seen. Davis’ initial work with Democrats, including being one of 35 Republicans to vote for an independent commission on Jan. 6, gave way to a more partisan posturing when the commission’s proposal died in the Senate.

House Democrats voted to create a select committee Jan. 6, and House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.) picked Davis and four others to serve on it. But when Democrats barred two staunch conservatives from serving, McCarthy withdrew all of its members.

Meanwhile, Illinois Democrats have gerrymanded new district lines and pushed Davis into a primary with Rep. Mary E. Miller (R-Ill.), a feisty pro-Trump conservative who won her first race in the Congress two years ago.

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With no visible perch on the select committee to defend Trump, Davis tried other ways to appeal to conservatives. He promised to investigate the investigators, using his board of directors to probe the select committee.

The new look didn’t sit well with Davis, an amiable lawmaker who counts Democrats among his closest friends. Miller won Tuesday by more than 15 percentage points.

Mullin had no such worries about how voters perceived his connection to Trump.

When the dust settled on Jan. 6 and the House reconvened, he stood with 138 other Republicans to oppose certification of Biden’s victory.

Last August, Biden administration officials blocked his attempt to sneak into Afghanistan to rescue stranded citizens on a helicopter mission with tens of thousands of dollars in cash. So when Sen. James M. Inhofe (R-Okla.) announced earlier this year that he would step down in December, Mullin jumped into the crowded race as a new conservative icon.

Six weeks before Tuesday’s initial vote, Mullin introduced legislation to overturn the House impeachment vote against Trump a week after his supporters stormed the Capitol.

He won nearly 44%, more than 90,000 ballots ahead of the former State House speaker, whom he will face in the August runoff.

“We’re not even close to being done,” Mullin told supporters in Tulsa. “In fact, the real fight starts tomorrow.”

Yet the closest Mullin to a real public fight came to the House nearly 18 months ago.

No lawmaker has done more than Mullin to restrain Trump-supporting rioters, sometimes risking their own safety. He helped the police drag a desk and other furniture past the back door and stood there yelling at the insurgents after they smashed windows and urged the police to pull out guns fearing shots. fire have been fired.

“You almost died,” Mullin recalled telling a rioter, in the C-SPAN interview. “Is it worth it?”

Another agitator spoke up, and the legislator said he had threatened to kill him: “I would overthrow you.

When the rioter said it was their house, Mullin replied, “It’s our house too, and we’re not going to let you in.”

Other Trump-aligned Republicans have hailed Ashli ​​Babbitt as a martyr, after the policeman shot her as she jumped out of a window that allegedly knocked her off the ground.

How Ashli ​​Babbitt went from Capitol rioter to Trump-kissed ‘martyr’

Not Mullin, who believed the officer’s decision saved lives. He walked over to the officer and kissed him.

“Sir, you did what you had to do,” Mullin recalled in the C-SPAN interview. “And I mean that.”

As other lawmakers rushed to safety through the Capitol basement, Mullin walked to the police “triage center” and shook 50 hands in a scene that sounded like “things that you see abroad”.

“Broken noses, broken faces, broken arms, broken heads,” he said.

Mullin described police as “absolutely heroes” for fighting in close combat and firing only one shot that day.

“It could have been a lot worse,” he said, concluding his C-SPAN oral history.

Despite their different career arcs, Davis and Mullin still have nothing but public praise for the ex-president.

“I would like to congratulate Congresswoman Miller and President Trump on their victory tonight. It was a hard-fought campaign,” Davis said in a statement Tuesday.

And, as he explained in his new legislation, Mullin wants to clear Trump’s record of the attack.

“This resolution will reverse that second impeachment, thereby erasing the name of Donald J. Trump as history tells it,” he said.

washingtonpost

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