- Associated Press - Thursday, December 19, 2019

PORTLAND, Maine — The sole Congressman who cast a split vote on the decision to impeach President Donald Trump said he knew the decision might not make him popular in a politically divided time, but he also felt it was the right thing to do.

“Here’s the thing. I voted my heart without fear about politics at all,” said Democratic Maine Rep. Jared Golden, a member of the class of 2018, on Thursday. “My conclusion was that this wasn’t about me. It was about the president and his actions; about our republic and about our Constitution.”

Golden joined with almost all of his Democratic colleagues on Wednesday in voting to impeach Trump for abuse of power, but broke with all but two Democrats in voting against impeaching trump for obstruction of Congress. Both articles of impeachment ultimately passed.

Golden represents a vast, rural, politically mixed district in Maine and is headed into an election year in which he will most likely face a hard fight to stay in Congress. He won his seat in 2018 over incumbent Republican Bruce Poliquin, and emerged victorious only after a ranked-choice voting system was used in a Congressional race for the first time in U.S. history. The district, Maine’s 2nd Congressional, supported Trump by more than 10 percentage points in 2016.

Augusta resident Ken McCullough, the kind of Republican voter Golden might need to win over the stay in office, said he felt Golden had reelection in mind when he made his decision.

“I think he was looking at his own political stance, and his chance for reelection. Because he couldn’t follow through with a true vote,” McCullough said.

No other Congress members split their vote, and most voted along party lines. Democratic Reps. Collin Peterson of Minnesota and Jeff Van Drew of New Jersey voted against both articles of impeachment. Van Drew is expected to switch parties. Democratic Rep. Tulsi Gabbard of Hawaii voted “present.”

Golden said prior to Wednesday’s vote that the House investigation “unearthed a pattern of evidence that demonstrates the corrupt intent on the part of the president” and associates to leverage presidential power to help win reelection. However, he also said Trump’s efforts to obstruct Congress didn’t raise to the level of a crime, and he felt the House should’ve first used the courts to enforce subpoenas. Golden reiterated those positions Thursday.

Some high profile liberal voters didn’t take kindly to Golden’s stance, such as author and Maine resident Stephen King, who tweeted prior to the vote: “If my congressman, Jared Golden, votes for only one article of impeachment, I will work with all my might to see him defeated next year.”

The Maine Democratic Party, though, is standing behind Golden. Maine’s only other representative, Democratic Rep. Chellie Pingree, is an outspoken Trump critic and voted for both articles of impeachment.

“We’re united on holding the president accountable for the abuse of power. Both of our congresspeople voted to,” said Holly Burke, a spokesperson for the party.

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