LEWISTON — Democrat Jared Golden, representing a district that voted heavily for Donald Trump in 2016, is facing increasing pressure from both Republicans and Democrats to clarify exactly where he stands when it comes to impeachment proceedings against the president.

A rally for Trump planned outside Golden’s office here Tuesday is meant to turn up the heat on the first-term congressman as the controversy  continues to roil Washington, D.C.

Democratic U.S. Rep. Jared Golden of Maine’s 2nd District

Golden, who represents Maine’s 2nd Congressional District, is among about a dozen Democrats in Congress who hold seats in districts the president won by six points or more. Republicans hope to pressure them to vote against approval of any impeachment articles considered by the U.S. House.

Golden is currently in Maine during a two-week recess from Congress. The Maine Sunday Telegram made several attempts last week to ask whether he believes Trump committed an impeachable offense when he asked Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky to investigate Democratic rival Joe Biden.

Nick Zeller, Golden’s spokesman in Washington, D.C., said Friday the congressman would not be available for an interview.

Zeller also said Golden is not hiding from the issue and had spoken to the media on the topic at least a half dozen times recently.

In an appearance Tuesday on WGAN talk radio, Golden said “it needs to be clear to the president … that trying to get foreigners to become involved in American elections is a clear red line and is not acceptable.”

But Golden refuses to say whether he believes the president should be impeached.

“I don’t agree with anyone that is rushing to conclusions or making assumptions,” he said. “This needs to be a fact-finding mission for the good of our country.”

Golden acknowledged the pressure he is under, saying, “I didn’t have to rush to take sides or respond to anything and I didn’t. And there are people on the left and people on the right that are upset with me about that but I am staying right in the middle.”

Golden has not responded publicly to Trump’s public call Thursday for Chinese leaders to investigate Biden. That prompted two Republican senators,  Utah’s Mitt Romney and Nebraska’s Ben Sasse, to break ranks with the president on impeachment.

Nina McLaughlin, a former Republican operative and a spokeswoman for Trump’s re-election campaign in Maine, said targeting Golden is no accident.

“It’s no secret that Congressional District Two is Trump country,” McLaughlin said. “When it comes down to it, Rep. Golden really needs to pick his sides here and he needs to pick the side of the Maine people he is representing.”

Trump won Maine’s 2nd district by 10 points, even though Lewiston, the district’s largest city, went for Trump’s Democratic opponent Hillary Clinton by more than 1,000 votes.

In an email blast earlier this week, Maine Republicans invited party members to join them at the rally outside Golden’s congressional office in Lewiston to “take a stand against Nancy Pelosi and Chuck Schumer’s impeachment witch hunt.”

Lewiston regularly sends an all-Democratic delegation to the Legislature, but over the last decade the city regularly supported Republican candidates for Congress and other statewide races, including twice voting for Republican Gov. Paul LePage, a Trump loyalist. Lewiston voters have also repeatedly installed conservative mayors who have backed both Trump and LePage, in what are generally considered non-partisan elections.

Golden, who won his seat in the nation’s first ranked-choice congressional election, was propelled ahead of two-term incumbent Republican Bruce Poliquin during the second round of ballot tabulations, after Poliquin edged him in the first round but failed to get a clear majority.

The push by the Republican National Committee to pressure Democrats holding seats in districts won by Trump was also apparent in tweets by  the committee’s national chairwoman, Ronna McDaniel, last week. McDaniel shared videos of Trump supporters greeting some Democratic lawmakers as they arrived home for the fall recess or made campaign appearances.

“House Democrats like @RepHaleyStevens promised to work with Republicans,” McDaniel tweeted Thursday. “Instead she’s joined Pelosi and the Socialist Squad in pursuing a baseless impeachment inquiry. It turns out – her constituents aren’t happy about it! ”

The tweet contained a link to a video showing protesters holding Trump signs and yelling at Stevens’ car as she arrived home in Michigan on Thursday morning. In another video, Trump supporters in Nevada are seen waving signs at Democratic presidential candidate and U.S. Sen. Elizabeth Warren, D-Mass., as she arrived for an event in Reno on Wednesday.

While Golden talks of the “red line” posed by foreign interference in American elections, McLaughlin said he’s also walking his own line.

“We know that voters in CD 2 are conservative,” McLaughlin said. “We know that they voted for President Trump and many of them also voted for Jared Golden so he really is putting himself on the line by not supporting the president here.”

But Kiernan Majerus-Collins, chairman of the Lewiston Democratic Committee, said he believes Golden, a Marine Corps combat veteran and Bates College alumnus, is basing his decisions on principle. He said Golden wouldn’t be swayed by an angry mob outside his office or by the politics of impeachment.

“I think he is going to do what he thinks is right,” Majerus-Collins said. “He’s always struck me as a guy who went to Washington because he wanted to do some good and he does not seem overly concerned, at least in my experience, with doing something that is politically expedient, but instead doing what he thinks is right for the country.”

Majerus-Collins acknowledged that voters in Maine’s largely rural 2nd Congressional District are split on impeachment.

“But I think it’s important for folks to recognize that Lewiston is a Democratic city, we have Democratic values, we did not vote for this president, we don’t like this president,” Majerus-Collins said. “And speaking for myself and what I would hazard to guess the majority of Democrats in the city, we think the president ought to be impeached. But Lewiston is a blue city in a swing district.”

Majerus-Collins said he wasn’t personally frustrated and didn’t believe most party members were frustrated with what he sees as deliberative behavior on Golden’s part. “I appreciate the seriousness with which he is treating this issue and have a great deal of faith in his principles,” Majerus-Collins said.

 

 


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