Twelve House Democrats, many from congressional districts where President Donald Trump won in 2016, are still publicly withholding support for an impeachment inquiry following revelations the president pressured the Ukranian government into relaunching an investigation into former Vice President Joe Biden.
Of those dozen members, all but one are considered moderates, and all but one are Republican targets in the 2020 midterm elections. Ten of them are serving their first term in Congress. Most have said they believe impeaching Trump would be needlessly divisive and inflame political tensions, while others indicated impeachment must be a bipartisan process — an unlikely scenario — or said they were still seeking more information about Trump’s actions.
“If anyone thinks a partisan impeachment process would constrain President Trump, they are fooling themselves,” Rep. Collin Peterson told the Detroit Lakes Tribune. “Without significant bipartisan support, impeachment proceedings will be a lengthy and divisive action with no resolution.”
Peterson, considered one of the most conservative Democrats in Congress, represents a sprawling, agriculture-heavy district in western Minnesota that Trump won by 30 percentage points. Peterson himself won reelection by a 52% to 48% margin in 2018, and faces a stiff challenge from former GOP Lt. Gov. Michelle Fischbach in 2020.
In addition to Peterson, the holdouts in HuffPost’s count are Reps. Lucy McBath of Georgia, Anthony Brindisi and Max Rose of New York, Joe Cunningham of South Carolina, Tulsi Gabbard of Hawaii, Jared Golden of Maine, Kendra Horn of Oklahoma, Ron Kind of Wisconsin, Ben McAdams of Utah, Xochitl Torres Small of New Mexico and Jeff Van Drew of New Jersey.
The other moderates represent a broad swath of swing-to-conservative territory, mostly in suburban and rural America: Trump won the district represented by McBath, which covers the northern suburbs of Atlanta, by just 5,000 votes. Van Drew, a conservative former state legislator, won his seat centered on Atlantic City and the Philadelphia suburbs by 8 percentage points after Trump won it by 4 points in 2016. Torres Small represents a rural border district in southern New Mexico, winning it by less than 4,000 votes after a 14,000-vote Trump triumph two years earlier.
Cunningham, who represents Charleston and the rest of coastal South Carolina, also tried to distance himself from a congressional leadership that is all-in on an impeachment investigation.
“I’ve warned members of my own party that a partisan rush to impeach the President would be bad for the country,” he told McClatchy.
Of the impeachment process opponents, one stands out: Gabbard, a 2020 presidential candidate who represents a district Clinton won by 32 percentage points in 2018.
“I believe that impeachment at this juncture would be terribly divisive for the country at a time when we are already extremely divided,” she said on “Fox and Friends” Tuesday. “The hyperpartisanship is one of the main things driving our country apart.”
Gabbard, who is polling in the single digits and is struggling to make the stage at the next Democratic presidential debate, has long embraced views and taken actions considered unorthodox or fringe in the party.
But Gabbard, a military veteran who was once considered a rising star in the party, is also facing a potential primary challenge in her home district in Hawaii. State Sen. Kai Kahele, who already has the endorsement of three former Democratic governors in the state, highlighted his support for Hawaii Democrats who back impeachment in a tweet Thursday morning.
“After reading the 5 page Ukraine call memo and watching President Trump’s unhinged & rambling press conference today, it is more clear than ever that the House must move swiftly with its impeachment inquiry,” Kahele wrote on Twitter Wednesday.
This article has been updated to reflect that Reps. Colin Allred (D-Texas) and Conor Lamb (D-Pa.) now support an impeachment inquiry.
CORRECTION: Due to an editorial error, this article previously misidentified McAdams as a representative from New York; he is from Utah.