Rep. Liz Cheney speaks to the press at the US Capitol in Washington, DC, on May 12, 2021.
CNN  — 

It’s beyond debate that the current version of the Republican Party amounts to a cult of personality built around former President Donald Trump. The Trumpiest voices dominate, and the party leadership, from Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell to House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy, have acquiesced to the whims of the 45th President.

But, on Wednesday night, there was a glimmer – and, to be clear, not much more than a glimmer – of hope that a strain of the party might exist that saw Trump’s corrosive influence on the GOP and wanted to return Republicans to sanity.

A total of 35 House Republicans voted in favor of the creation of a bipartisan commission to examine the events surrounding the riot at the US Capitol on January 6. In doing so, they bucked both Trump, who called the commission “just more partisan unfairness,” as well as their own party leadership, which publicly opposed the vote.

Which is no small thing! Especially when you consider that Trump carried 30 of these 35 congressional districts in 2020, according to Daily Kos’ presidential elections results by House seat. And, in many cases, it’s not just that Trump won those districts. In many instances, he won them by WIDE margins.

Trump won Rep. Liz Cheney’s Wyoming at-large seat by 40 points. He won the districts of Reps. David McKinley (West Virginia) and Blake Moore (Utah) by 30 points. He won the seats of Reps. John Curtis (Utah), Dusty Johnson (South Dakota), Steve Womack (Arkansas), Mike Simpson (Idaho) and Jeff Fortenberry (Nebraska) by more than 20 points.

Simply put: Those members listed above directly opposed Trump – in districts where the former President almost certainly remains quite popular – on the creation of a commission aimed at getting to the bottom of what actually happened on January 6 (and how it could be avoided in the future).

Voting for the commission legislation was (and is), without question, a more politically dangerous vote than simply siding with more than 80% of the House GOP conference that opposed it. It was (and is) a harder vote – and one that could, in the right hands, be used to run a primary campaign against these members in which they are cast as insufficiently loyal to Leader Trump.

They voted, in short, on principle. That principle being that the US Capitol being overrun by insurrectionists who did massive damage, chanted things like “Hang Mike Pence” and constructed a gallows outside the Capitol – all driven by a fake belief that the election was stolen from Trump – was a sufficient enough cataclysm for the country that party needed to take a back seat to doing what was right.

Don’t think that Trump hasn’t noticed.

“See, 35 wayward Republicans—they just can’t help themselves,” Trump said in a brief statement Thursday afternoon in which he warned of “consequences to being ineffective and weak. The voters understand!”

(Sidebar: Not all 35 of those Republicans who voted for the commission legislation put politics totally aside, of course. Texas Rep. Van Taylor said his “yes” vote was because he wanted to know “what Nancy Pelosi and her team knew, when they knew it and why the Capitol was not secure.”)

Now, one vote does not a return to normalcy for the Republican Party make. And it’s very important to remember that these 35 GOPers were a) very much the exception to the rule and b) not all voting for the commission legislation for the same reasons.

But, it does suggest that there are some Republicans willing to buck Trump (and Republican leadership) when it comes to what happened on January 6. And that more than three times as many House Republicans voted for this commission than voted to impeach the former President back in January suggests that their ranks are growing – albeit slowly.