WASHINGTON — Rep. Jared Golden makes it a near-perfect sweep.
With his announcement Tuesday evening that he’ll back one of the two articles of impeachment against President Trump, the Maine congressman ensured that basically every freshman Democrat will vote for impeachment — including ones who represent districts Trump won in 2016.
Just days ago, House Democratic leaders expected at least a half-dozen defections.
That’s a remarkable level of unanimity from House Democratic freshmen, many of whom won tough races in GOP-leaning districts and face very tough reelection fights.
“Nothing about political risk came into my calculation here,” Rep. Max Rose (D-N.Y.), one of the 20 Trump-district Democrats who has endorsed impeachment, insisted to VICE News before comparing Trump’s actions to “asking the Soviet premier to take the lead on the Watergate break-in.”
This near-unanimous decision is an incredible act of political bravery — or short-sighted foolhardiness, depending on who you ask. These Democrats recognize backing impeachment is a risk. But basically all of them are doing it anyway.
“In all likelihood, some of us are gonna lose our jobs over it,” admitted Rep. Dean Phillips (D-Minn.), a freshman Democrat from a swing district that Trump lost. “I think when you do so following principle, it's a message to the country.”
There are 31 House Democrats in Trump districts, including 21 freshmen. Fully 28 have said they’ll vote for impeachment, and most expect Rep. Ron Kind (D-Wis.) will join them.
Now just two of the 233 House Democrats are expected to vote against impeachment. And one of them isn’t even really a Democrat anymore. Freshman Rep. Jeff Van Drew (N.J.) is planning to leave the Democratic Party, and most of his staff have already resigned in protest.
Veteran Rep. Collin Peterson (D-Minn.), whose district Trump won by 30 points, is the only Democrat who’s sent a clear signal he’ll vote against impeachment, while iconoclastic Rep. Tulsi Gabbard (D-Hawaii) has also suggested she might not vote for it either.
But those are the exceptions.
These members know that some of them will lose their seats because of impeachment. But as their freshman colleague Rep. Rashida Tlaib (D-Mich.) famously put it, they'll still "impeach the motherfucker."
Cover: U.S. Rep. Jared Golden, D-Maine, speaks ceremony for a Zumwalt-class guided missile destroyer named for former President Lyndon Baines Johnson, Saturday, April 27, 2019, in Bath, Maine. (AP Photo/David Sharp)