First-term U.S. Rep. Jared Golden of Maine’s 2nd Congressional District is one of the few House members who has not yet declared how he will vote Wednesday on two articles of impeachment charging President Donald Trump with abusing his power and obstructing an investigation by Congress.

U.S. Rep. Jared Golden Eric Connolly photo

Friends said the Lewiston Democrat spent the weekend poring over witness testimony related to charges the president sought to enlist Ukraine’s help to smear political rivals in America, talking with law professors and “reading analysis everywhere he can find it,” as Lewiston lawyer Taylor Asen put it in a Facebook post.

“Jared understands that this is probably the most important vote he’ll take in Congress” and is taking it seriously, Asen said.

It appears, though, that enough centrist Democrats from swing districts have already come out in favor of impeachment to assure passage of the two articles on Wednesday.

Golden’s vote is unlikely to sway the outcome one way or another at this point.

Even so, it is likely to prove a defining moment for him, one that forces him to side with Trump or stand against him.

Golden has not said when he will make a decision, but it could come as early as Tuesday afternoon. The vote is likely to occur late Wednesday.

Maine’s other member of Congress, 1st Congressional District Democrat Chellie Pingree, said she’s going to vote for both articles of impeachment.

“There is a mountain of evidence that Donald Trump used his office to solicit the interference of a foreign government in the 2020 election,” she said in a statement on Twitter. Trump, Pingree said, “has left us no choice but to continue the impeachment process with the breadth of evidence before us.”

Republican opponents are calling on him to back Trump, insisting that his rural Maine constituents support the president. Trump won the 2nd Congressional District by a 10-point margin in the 2016 election.

Adrienne Bennett of Bangor, one of four potential challengers in next year’s congressional race, said Mainers in the district are angry at the Democrats and unconvinced by “the flimsy evidence” presented by House committees pushing for impeachment.

“I would say that Democrats are grasping at straws with these impeachment efforts,” said GOP contender Eric Brakey of Auburn, “but that’s kind of hard to do when you’ve banned straws.”

Another challenger, Dale Crafts of Lisbon, said it “shouldn’t be a hard decision” for Golden.

Crafts said that for Democrats like Golden, impeachment is “a funding stream to continue to push back” against Trump.

Many Democrats agree with Crafts that the decision ought to be an easy one — only they favor impeachment.

Mainers for Accountable Leadership, a grassroots group that opposes Trump, said he tried to bribe a foreign government “to investigate a political rival. That’s a high crime.”

Some of the critics are gathering Tuesday afternoon on the Auburn side of Longley Bridge to call on lawmakers to impeach and convict the president.

“It is our democracy at stake, “said Pat Fogg of Resist Central Maine L/A, one of the protest organizers.

Hundreds of thousands of dollars have been spent on advertisements pushing Golden to oppose impeachment, part of a nationwide effort to target Democrats holding seats in Republican-leaning districts.

American Action Network alone has spent at least $325,000 on anti-impeachment ads focused on Golden.

Not all the opposition to impeachment is coming from conservatives.

Lisa Savage, a Solon teacher who is running for U.S. Senate in the Maine Green Independent Party, said in a news release Tuesday that there are “legitimate concerns that Trump has abused power and violated the Constitution.”

But, she said, “the articles of impeachment in their current narrow formulation do not truly rise to the level of high crimes and misdemeanors that the Constitution lays out as a prerequisite for impeachment.”

Golden, 37, won his seat last year in one of the closest congressional elections in the nation, ousting two-term Republican Bruce Poliquin in the first federal race to use ranked-choice voting.

One of his challengers in the 2018 contest, independent Tiffany Bond, a Portland lawyer, has made it clear on Twitter that she supports impeachment.

“I never pictured the GOP going all in on such a thin-skinned whiner,” she said.

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