“Damn the Torpedoes, Full Speed Ahead” on Impeachment, Election – Sunday Political Brunch - December 22, 2019

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CHARLESTON, W. Va. – To no one’s surprise, the House of Representatives has impeached President Trump on two articles. The Constitutional process now moves on to the Senate for trial. But this is more than just about President Trump’s actions in office. It has lots of political implications for the 2020 election. Let’s “brunch” on that this week.

“Boy Was I Wrong!” – As a political analyst, I take an educated guess on how things will play out. With 43 years’ experience covering politics, I usually have a pretty good radar. Last week I predicted, in an act of political self-preservation, upwards of 15 Democrats would vote “no” on impeachment, mostly 2018 freshman who won districts that Trump carried in 2016. There are about 30 seats like this. But in the end, only two Democrats cast “no” votes on impeachment. So, my prediction was way off.

“Why is That?” – It’s interesting, because many of these Democrats in marginal districts may be in political trouble in areas where Trump is popular. Did they just commit political suicide, or will standing on principles carry them to reelection? It will be fascinating to watch. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi basically told her members to “roll the dice” and take their chances. The safe, calculated, political choice would be to let enough of these folks bolt the party and vote “no” just to save their own vulnerable seats. Instead, the “yes” vote is a bold political gamble that could cost Pelosi her majority, or embolden it to further success with its agenda, especially if Trump is reelected. Just fascinating!!!

“Déjà vu, All Over Again” – The classic Yogi Berra line holds true in baseball and politics. For some in Congress this impeachment is not their first rodeo. The most fascinating is Rep. Zoe Lofgren (D) California, who may be the only person in U.S. history to work on three impeachments. In 1974, she was a Congressional staff member to long-time Rep. Don Edwards (D) California, who served on the House Judiciary Committee, working on President Nixon’s impeachment. Elected to Congress in 1994, she was on the committee considering impeachment articles against President Clinton, and then again, this year for President Trump. Lofgren, whom I’ve known and covered for years, scores the “impeachment hat trick!”

“And Then There are More” – President Clinton was impeached on December 19, 1998. President Trump was impeached a day short of 21-years December 18, 2019. In both cases, the House said “yes” to two articles of impeachment but heading into the Senate trial we know that on both occasions there were not enough votes to remove either from office. NOTE TO CONGRESS: Political impeachments during December are a bad idea. First, the season has a lot to do with redemption and forgiveness, plus people are full-bore into the holidays and not really focused on politics. Only two of four impeachments had the desired result. President Andrew Johnson was impeached in May of 1868, and lost renomination two months later. The House Judiciary Committee passed articles of impeachment against President Richard Nixon in August 1975, and he resigned days later.

“Political Implications?” – You need a two-thirds vote in the Senate, or 67 votes, to remove a president from office. Right now, the Senate is 53 Republicans to 47 Democrats. In theory, 20 Republicans would have to join with a unanimous minority caucus (not a safe bet), to remove Trump from office. Here are five Republicans who could bolt. Sen. Susan Collins (R) Maine is up for reelection in 2020. She may be the most liberal Senate Republican. Sen. Lamar Alexander (R) Tennessee, is retiring so he can just cast “a vote of conscience” without facing the wrath of voters. Sen. Mitt Romney (R) Utah does not like Trump but would have no political risk in voting for removal. Sen. Cory Gardner (R) Colorado is the most at risk of losing his seat in 2020, so he’d be a safe “yes” on removing Trump. Sen. Martha McSally (R) Arizona is trying to hold her appointed seat in 2020, but upsetting Arizona Republicans could get her defeated in a key swing state. Still, these represent only five votes, far short of the 20 needed.

Are you a “yes” or “no” on removing President Trump from office? Just click the comment button and tell us why!

Mark Curtis, Ed.D., is Chief Political Reporter for the five Nexstar Media TV stations serving West Virginia and its five surrounding states, plus most of the Washington, D.C. media market. He is a National Contributing Political Writer for “The White House Patch” at www.Patch.com.

© 2019, Mark Curtis Media, LLC

Phot courtesy: U.S House TV & Radio Gallery

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