Swing state House Democrats face electoral jeopardy after rolling the dice and capitulating to their party’s leadership by supporting an impeachment inquiry into President Donald Trump.
Prior to House Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s Sept. 24 announcement launching a formal impeachment inquiry against the president, a majority of representatives from districts that Trump carried in 2016 were caught in the middle of a tricky balancing act between appeasing a liberal base determined to oust Trump and a bloc of independent, Republican-leaning voters who support the president.
The swing-seat caucus strategically resisted publicly supporting impeachment to avoid political backlash, knowing independents in their battle ground districts opposed removing Trump from office and viewed the charges leveled against the president as baseless.
Centrist House members sought guidance from leadership in a Sept. 24 closed door meeting on how to stand with their party despite their constituents’ likely opposition of the proceedings and were reassured impeaching Trump is not a political liability.
Following the meeting moderate Democrats, privately and publicly blasted the Democratic caucus for lacking a clear strategy on impeachment and admitted the party’s handling of the 2 year-long Russia probe had already hurt their credibility.
To assure all members were equipped to use consistent rhetoric when pressed on their support for impeachment inquiry, Rep. Cheri Bustos (D – Ill), the chairwoman of the House Democrats’ campaign arm, issued a Oct. 17 memo from a firm working for the DCCC to House Democrats.
According to the Wall Street Journal reported, the memo included polling data from conducted on behalf of House Democratsand instructed swing state members on how to talk about impeachment, warning they should focus their messaging on how Trump has abused his power but continue to discussing issues like health care.
Ultimately, swing state moderate Democrats cowered to the Democrat establishment,assuring House Speaker Nancy Pelosi enough votes to announce an official impeachment probe into Trump’s efforts to push Ukraine to investigate former Vice President Joe Biden and his son Hunter Biden’s potential corruption charges
Hunter Biden was paid approximately $50,000 to $80,000 monthly to sit on the board of a Ukrainian energy company with no energy experience, other than being the vice president’s son.
The final vote on House Resolution 660, authorizing the impeachment inquiry, was 232 yes and 196 no, with four members not voting. Nationally, just two Democrats broke with their party. No Republicans did.
After six weeks of witness interviews in the impeachment inquiry and hundreds of hours of testimony, Democrats have yet to sell impeachment to the general public. Recent polls indicate the general electorate and independents still aren’t buying the roulette wheel of legal allegations Democrats are leveling against the president.
The following feckless Democrat lawmakers, all of whom represent one of the 31 in districts that Trump won in 2016, will likely face backlash in 2020 for betrayed their constituents in pursuit of a partisan witch hunt against the president that has failed time and time again.
Rep. Elissa Slotkin
Slotkin, who represents Michigan’s 8th congressional district, announced her support of an impeachment inquiry on Sept. 23, arguing in a Washington Post op-ed along with six other moderate Democrats that Trump’s request of the an investigation Biden dealings in the Ukraine are unconstitutional.
Trump’s request of Zelenskiy was solely intended to eliminate his 2020 opponent from the presidential race and was “prospective, not retrospective,” Slotkin she told reporters after voting for the resolution. “It’s talking about 2020 and the potential use of dirt from a foreigner in 2020. And those things just made it, for me, beyond the pale.”
However,following a private Democrat caucus meeting with House Speaker Pelosi the next day, Slotkin, a former CIA analyst and as a Department of Defense official admitted her party’s rationale for impeachment is incoherent.
“If you are asking us to stay on message, give us a g-ddamn message to stay on,” Slotkin lamented, scolding her Democrat colleagues. “We came out [in favor of an impeachment inquiry] because this is something different, this meeting did not give me confidence that this will be something different.”
Michigan’s 8th Congressional district went for President Trump in 2016 by a margin of 6.7 points.
Rep. Elaine Luria
In 2018, Luria,a retired Navy commander flipped Virginia’s 2nd congressional district, one of the most deeply split districts in the country, helping Democrats gain control of the House. Her victory marked the first time a Democrat was elected to the seat since 2008.
Luria joined Slotikin and five other moderate Democrats in expressing support for the inquiry in the Washington Post op-ed.
Her announcement supporting impeachment reportedly prompted a new level of scrutiny form her conservative constituents, with hundreds of phone calls from residents within her districts reportedly pouring into her office, warning the moderate lawmaker lost their vote.
Voters in the district, which backed Trump by 3 points in 2016, have a relatively stronger understanding of national security. The region is home to nine major military centers, including the world’s biggest naval base in Norfolk. One in 5 voters in the district active military personnel, veterans or family members serving in the military – the largest concentrations of combined retired and active military personnel in the country.
But the Virginia lawmaker is not backing down, contending she is unfazed by the prospect of losing her seat amid the impeachment efforts.
“People sent me to Washington to make hard choices,” Luria told PBS earlier this month. “I think that I made the right decision. I don’t care if that means I don’t get reelected in 2020. I want to be able to say I was on the right side of history.”
In an effort to sway voters in the battleground state, she released an ad on Veterans Day featuring media clips discussing Trump’s actions in Ukraine interspersed with footage of her the Congressional Oath of Office.
Rep. Max Rose
In 2018, Rose flipped New York’s deeply red 11th congressional district,which covers all of Staten Island and a thin wedge of South Brooklyn,Democratic. A graduate of Wesleyan and the London School of Economics who joined the Army and was nearly blown up by an IED in Afghanistan, Rose was one of the last Democrats in the country to come out in favor of an impeachment inquiry.
Donald Trump won NY-11by 17 points over Democratic nominee Hillary Clinton in 2016.
After hedging on impeachment for months, he announced the decision to vote for the investigation at a Staten Island town hall in October, where he blasted both Democrats and Republicans for their stance on Trump’s dealings with Zelensky.
“If I had hair, I’d want to rip it out,” he said, repudiating Democrats launching impeachment before any of the facts were known. Republicans, on the other hand, he continued are “deaf, mute, and blind whenever allegations against the president are brought up.”
Rose then argued Trump forced Democrats’ hand on impeachment.
“I do not want to be here. This is the last thing I want to be doing,” he said. “But no one is to blame but the president. The president says he is innocent, so all we are saying is ‘prove it.’ But that is not what they are doing. They are not cooperating, and we need to get to the bottom of it.”
The self-described “centrist populist” lawmaker blasted former Vice President Joe Biden’s son, Hunter Biden, and his position on a Ukrainian oil company, Burisma, but then warned the Trump family is guilty of the same malfeasance.
“It was the wrong decision for Hunter Biden to be on that board. In no way, shape, or form should someone’s public service benefit their family,” he said. “But if we are going to question Hunter Biden, we should also question Donald Trump Jr. and the way his companies have benefited, and not just Donald Trump Jr., but the other guy — the one who is even less impressive. What’s his name again? Eric! That’s right, Eric.”
Rep. Susan Wild
Wild represents Pennsylvania’s 7th congressional district, a labor-heavy district which favored Democrat Hillary Clinton in the 2016 presidential race by only 1 percentage point.
The freshman Democrat claimed in an interview with the Morning Call reports that most calls to the her office have been overwhelmingly in favor of the impeachment inquiry, with estimating 85% of callers supporting the probe into the president.
Wild, who had long served as the city of Allentown’s top lawyer before winning her seat in Congress in 2018, is confident she will keep her in 2020 because from her vantage point,impeachment is not on the minds of most of her constituents who want her to focus on pocketbook issues and doesn’t come up in conversations.
“My district is more interested in knowing about prescription drug prices and what we’re going to do about the price of insulin,” Wild said during an October town hall, drawing applause.
Rep. Ron Kind
Kind represents Wisconsin’s 3rd congressional district,which voted for Trump in 2016. The freshman lawmaker, a military veteran, insists Republicans who claim Trump’s involvement with Zelesky is permissible are prematurely assessing the case.
“They clearly haven’t seen all the evidence, all the facts or heard all the testimony and yet they’ve clearly already reached a conclusion,” Kindtold ABC local affiliate WISN. “They pre-judged this many months ago, I’m afraid.”
The freshman Democrat inis that his support to investigate Trump doesn’t guarantee his vote for impeachment, urged voters and lawmakers to keep an open mind, but warned“the evidence is pointing to a clear involvement of (Trump) trying to, again, blackmail the Ukraine president to conduct a political hit job on one of (Trump’s) rivals.”
Asked whether he’s fearful his support of impeachment would backfire in the district that heavily voted for Trump, he shot back, “not one single bit.”
Other freshman Democrats representing districts Trump won in 2016 include Reps. Joe Cunningham (SC-1),Chrissy Houlahan (PA -6), Mikie Sherrill of (NJ-11),Anthony Brindisi (NY-22), Antonio Delgado (NY-19), Haley Stevens (MI -11) and Abigail Spanberger(VA -7), Angie Craig (MN -2)
FAILED FROM THE START: NOT ENOUGH VOTES IN THE SENATE, AMERICANS DON’T CARE OR UNDERSTAND
Impeachment requires a two-thirds majority in the Senate in order to convict. Even if the House were to unanimously vote to impeach Trump, Republicans control the Senate. The impeachment effort will therefore likely backfire on Democrats and even tip the scales for Trump in 2020.
Meanwhile, polling conducted in key battleground states indicate there is a strong prospect the impeachment investigation will boomerang into a net negative for Democrats.
Impeaching and removing Trump is not a popular position in swing districts.
Just 43 percent of voters surveyed in Pennsylvania, Michigan, Florida, North Carolina, Wisconsin and Arizona– states that cast their votes for Trump in 2016 – want Trump impeached and moved from office, according to a New York Times and Sienna College poll. The majority, 53 percent, do not.
A focus group conducted by America First Policies shows key independent voters don’t even know or care what the impeachment inquiry is about and, much like the Russia collusion narrative, believe there is no “smoking gun” warranting Trump’s removal from office.
“AFP held 18 focus groups over the past two months in Charlotte, Columbus, Atlanta, Pittsburgh, Detroit, Des Moines, Orlando, Phoenix, and Miami with self-identified independent voters on the 2020 election and impeachment. The voters did not know they would be talking about politics when they were selected for the focus groups,” the Daily Caller reports, citing a source close to AFP.
“The voters did not mention Ukraine, an alleged quid pro quo, Rudy Giuliani, or any other key details about the House Democrats’ impeachment inquiry, according to videos of the focus groups reviewed by the Daily Caller. Instead, the focus groups expressed concerns about the largely closed-door impeachment inquiry process and slammed the inquiry as a distraction from other issues that they care about.”
Those more politically engaged with an understanding of the impeachment proceedings argued Democrats are not going about the inquiry “the right way,” asserting that the “sneaky” process “proves they don’t have anything.”