- The Washington Times - Monday, December 16, 2019

Democratic Rep. Jared Golden of Maine will head into the House impeachment vote with the added pressure of knowing he could provide Sen. Susan Collins cover in her reelection bid if he opposes the legislative effort to oust President Trump.

Ms. Collins, Maine Republican, is facing pressure to join the impeachment push from anti-Trump forces, including liberal activists who say she has falsely portrayed herself as an independent for years and are eager to stop her from winning a fourth term in the 2020 election.

That could be alleviated if Mr. Golden, who flipped a Republican-held seat in Trump-friendly territory as part of the Democratic takeover of the House last year, decides impeachment is a bridge too far.

“I do think that would give Susan Collins some cover,” said James Melcher, professor of political science at the University of Maine Farmington.

Ms. Collins’ rivals are warning she has become too partisan to weigh the impeachment evidence impartially.

Speaker of the Maine House Sara Gideon, who is running for the Democratic nomination and has the support of the national party, warned in recent fundraising emails that: “Soon, Susan Collins could be a juror on impeachment — which is a problem because we know that she’s just another reliable vote for Mitch McConnell and Trump in the Senate.

“She proved that when she cast a deciding vote to confirm Brett Kavanaugh despite all the evidence that showed he was not fit for a lifetime appointment to the Supreme Court,” Ms. Gideon said. “We can’t trust Sen. Collins to be an impartial juror — so it’s time to replace her with someone we CAN trust.”

The sting of the attack could lose its punch if Mr. Golden casts his vote against the two articles of impeachment.

He is keeping his cards close to his vest. His office did not respond to requests for comment.

The predicament is among the numerous subplots hanging over the House vote on impeachment expected as soon as Wednesday, with lawmakers in competitive districts caught in the middle of a partisan war that is forcing them to choose sides.

The group includes Rep. Jeff Van Drew, the New Jersey Democrat from a conservative congressional district who opposes impeachment and announced Monday he was switching to the Republican Party.

More than two dozen Democrats won House seats in 2018 in congressional districts that Mr. Trump carried in 2016.

Democrats, meanwhile, have to basically pitch a shutout game to flip control of the Senate. Their biggest pickup opportunities are in Arizona, Colorado, Maine and North Carolina.

Mr. Golden’s reelection race is considered a toss-up, according to the Cook Political Report, which identifies his contest as the only House contest that overlaps with a “toss-up” race in the Senate.

Republicans say Mr. Golden faces a no-win situation.

“Impeachment is a political death sentence no matter how Jared Golden votes,” said Michael Adams, spokesman for the National Republican Campaign Committee. “Either he supports impeachment and loses the independent voters he needs to win reelection or he votes against impeachment and is abandoned by Democrat voters.”

Bev Uhlenhake, chairwoman of the Penobscot County Democrats, said Mr. Golden is in a tough position, but disagreed with the idea that a “yes” vote would lead to primary trouble.

“If he sees a primary challenge from further to the left, I don’t think that he is in any danger of losing the primary,” she said. “Whether or not that offers Collins cover, yes, I do think that could offer her some cover.”

Ms. Uhlenhake said she expects the lawmakers “to make the right choice based on the information in front of them.”

“That said, I expect my children to behave in public, but I don’t always trust them to do so,” she said.

• Seth McLaughlin can be reached at smclaughlin@washingtontimes.com.

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