The Republicans most at risk in next year’s election are aligning themselves with the impeachment inquiry

By | September 15, 2023

WASHINGTON (AP) — Republicans, whose elections in swing districts next year will determine which party gains control of the House, are overwhelmingly voicing their support for House Speaker Kevin McCarthy’s impeachment inquiry into President Joe Biden. It’s a position, Democrats say, that could backfire on them.

McCarthy saved Republican lawmakers from having to vote to launch the impeachment inquiry, a likely sign that he didn’t have the votes to succeed. Yet many of the 18 Republicans representing districts Biden won in 2020 were quick to say they supported McCarthy’s launch despite the potential political risk at home.

“I think the American people deserve to know the facts and I look forward to seeing what the outcome of the investigation is,” said Rep. Jen Kiggans, who represents a Virginia district that Biden won in 2022. he achieved almost a 2% lead. points in 2020.

If the investigation leads to an impeachment vote, history suggests it won’t necessarily be helpful to impeachments. House Republicans lost five seats in the 1998 elections just weeks before impeaching President Bill Clinton. Democrats achieved these surprising results even though the party that controls the White House usually struggles in midterm elections.

Democrats need only a handful of seats to regain control of the House next year, as Republicans control the chamber by a narrow margin with a 222-212 majority. Rep. Suzan DelBene, campaign chair for House Democrats, provided a preview of the political arguments to come, saying vulnerable House Republicans are not focusing on meeting voters’ needs as they pursue a “fake impeachment” .

“They are not fit to govern,” he said. “House Democrats will make sure people know this as we continue to focus on growing the middle class, reducing costs and creating jobs.”

Rep. Richard Hudson, chairman of the House Republicans’ voting campaign, dismissed the threat the impeachment inquiry could pose to Republicans in swing districts. He said voters want transparency and accountability in government.

“As long as we follow the facts, I don’t think it hurts us,” Hudson said.

An AP-NORC poll finds that two-thirds of Republicans, but only 7% of Democrats, are very concerned that President Biden has committed wrongdoing related to his son Hunter Biden’s business dealings. About a third of those claiming to be independent said they were extremely or very worried.

The Congressional Integrity Project, a Democratic-aligned group, has already launched digital ads hammering the investigation in the 18 Republican-led districts won by Biden. The ads frame the impeachment inquiry masterminded by McCarthy and conservative brand Marjorie Taylor Greene, R-Ga., in an effort to help former President Donald Trump, who is seeking a rematch with Biden in 2024. The ads call on lawmakers to “focus on real priorities and not fake impeachment stunts.”

Many of the Republicans in the districts Biden won are from California and New York. They will need to win over independents and moderates to win, and ads aligning them with Greene and Trump are designed to make that job harder for them.

Brad Woodhouse, a longtime Democratic strategist and senior adviser to the group, said Republicans have failed to get their priorities across the finish line as they fight among themselves to raise the debt ceiling and fund the government. That’s a vulnerability that will be magnified during an impeachment fight, he said.

“Aside from impeachment, it wouldn’t be difficult to say that this Republican-led Congress has failed miserably to address the issues you care about,” Woodhouse said of the message to voters. “But if you add that to having wasted six months or whatever it is on impeachment, it’s going to be a really powerful message to the challengers of these Republican members.”

Even as they say they support McCarthy’s efforts, some swing district Republicans stress they will focus on other issues, clearly aware of the criticism coming their way.

Rep. Marc Molinaro, R-Y., told reporters that the impeachment inquiry “is going to consume a lot of your attention. It’s not going to consume a lot of my attention.”

Rep. Nick LaLota, R-N.Y., said the decision to launch the Biden investigation “was the speaker’s call” and all they were embarking on was a fact-finding mission. He said he wasn’t worried about how the investigation would play out politically for him at home.

“That’s not on my plate right now. However, I think my constituents deserve some answers,” LaLota said.

The freshman congressman, along with other likely opponents such as Rep. Ken Buck, R-Colo., were offered private briefings from leadership this week in order to ease any concerns they had about moving forward with an investigation.

McCarthy was asked Wednesday how he managed to convince impeachment skeptics in his caucus.

“There are a lot of allegations out there that you just want to have an answer to. The impeachment inquiry simply allows Congress – Republicans and Democrats – to get questions answered,” McCarthy said.

Rep. James Comer, R-Ky., who will lead the investigation, said some concerned lawmakers contacted him in the days before McCarthy’s announcement.

“I tried to explain to them that my goal has always been just to get the facts,” Comer said. “And, ultimately, if the facts lead to impeachment, then I’m sorry, we’re going to have to vote on impeachment. But the facts clearly point to an impeachment inquiry.”

Just two weeks ago, McCarthy told Breitbart News that if House Republicans moved forward with the impeachment inquiry, it would happen with a formal vote on the House floor. He said “the American people deserve to be heard on this issue through its elected representatives”.

But this week he took a different tack and launched the investigation unilaterally, although it is possible he could ask for a vote later. The maneuver protected Republicans in swing districts from having to cast that vote to launch an impeachment inquiry, even though many said they would vote yes.

Rep. Mike Garcia, R-California, was one of them. He won a district that Biden carried by a whopping 13 percentage points.

“There seems to be this national narrative that people in swing districts don’t want accountability and the truth. Right? That’s not the case,” Garcia said. “There is smoke there, so we have an obligation to investigate and see if there is fire there.”


Associated Press writers Stephen Groves, Farnoush Amiri and Lisa Mascaro contributed to this report.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *