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At the Races: Who will impeachment hurt most?

By Mary Ellen McIntire, Daniela Altimari and Niels Lesniewski

Democrats hope to put pressure on Republicans in districts that President Joe Biden won as their party debates whether to open an official impeachment inquiry ahead of the House’s return to Washington next week. 

Polling in the 18 districts that backed Biden in 2020 and a House Republican in 2022 found 56 percent of voters thought that an impeachment inquiry would be more focused on damaging Biden politically versus 41 percent who thought it would be about finding the truth. The poll, by the Democratically aligned Public Policy Polling firm, surveyed 633 registered voters across the districts on Aug. 25 and 26 through telephone and text message surveys.

The House voted in June to refer articles of impeachment to two House committees. The resolution, from Colorado Rep. Lauren Boebert, argued that Biden violated federal immigration laws and hadn’t protected the nation’s southern border. 

But the debate around whether to open an impeachment inquiry of late has focused more on the foreign business dealings by the president’s son, Hunter Biden, who federal prosecutors said Wednesday faces indictment on charges yet to be seen.

“Republicans appear to be barreling headlong into an impeachment inquiry without a shred of evidence demonstrating any misconduct by President Biden,” said New York Rep. Dan Goldman, who was previously lead counsel for Democrats during the first impeachment of President Donald Trump in 2020. “Hunter Biden is a private citizen. This is not an impeachment inquiry of Hunter Biden. And whatever Hunter Biden may have done … is being dealt with by the Department of Justice.”

North Dakota Sen. Kevin Cramer said Tuesday it appears that more inquiry is “appropriate, if not required,” but that from what he’s seen, it’s not yet time to bring up a vote on impeachment. Cramer, who is up for reelection next year in a solid Republican state, said if an investigation leads to an impeachment, then the political calculations are separate. 

“If there’s evidence that leads you towards an inquiry or an inquiry that leads you toward enough evidence that the president or somebody else needs to be brought up on impeachment charges or articles of impeachment, we have to do it. It’s not a matter of whether it’s politically viable or not, it’s an obligation under your oath,” he said.

Starting gate

Lying eyes: Generative AI will supercharge the ability of campaigns, and their rogue supporters, to produce believable fakes, CQ Roll Call’s Jim Saksa reports. But while experts will be able to prove if something is fake, in a political climate where people increasingly choose what they want to believe, will it make a difference?

Split on labor: The Republican Party has sought to recalibrate its brand in the Donald Trump era by courting working-class voters and even making a play for union endorsements. But the party’s overtures toward unionized workers do not extend to educators, who form a broad swath of the unionized workforce and remain one of the party’s top targets. 

Déjà vu: A federal court again found that a legislative redraw of Alabama’s congressional districts still violates the Voting Rights Act and gave a special master three weeks to submit new lines, CQ Roll Call’s Ryan Tarinelli reports. The state is appealing to the Supreme Court, which earlier this year upheld a similar decision by the lower court.

Ex-Biden aide wins: Former White House aide Gabe Amo won a crowded Democratic primary for an open House seat in Rhode Island on Tuesday and is heavily favored to beat Republican Gerry Leonard in November. Amo would make history as the first Black member of Congress from Rhode Island.

Ex-Stewart aide belatedly wins: It took an extra day for the race to be called, but Celeste Maloy won a Republican primary in Utah’s 2nd District for the seat Rep. Chris Stewart, her former boss, is giving up next week, CQ Roll Call’s K. Sophie Will reports. KUTV says she found out about the win while driving home from a farm tour Wednesday.

Rogers in Michigan: Former Republican Rep. Mike Rogers has announced he’s running for Senate in Michigan, seeking to fill the seat that’s being vacated by the retirement of Sen. Debbie Stabenow.


Testing, testing: Former Michigan Rep. Peter Meijer launched an exploratory committee as he weighs his own Senate run in the Wolverine State, which allows him to raise money and conduct polling without officially launching a campaign. Meijer, who served one term in the House before losing a primary last year, was one of 10 House Republicans who voted to impeach Trump.

More Michigan challenges: Democrat Carl Marlinga is running again in Michigan’s 10th District. Marlinga narrowly lost to GOP Rep. John James last year. Republican Paul Hudson launched a campaign in the 3rd District, which Democratic Rep. Hillary Scholten flipped last year. 

They’re also running: Recently retired Marine Corps Lt. Col. Mike O’Brien, a Democrat, announced a run to challenge Pennsylvania Rep. Scott Perry in the 10th District. Perry is the chair of the House Freedom Caucus. In Virginia’s 2nd District, Navy veteran Missy Cotter Smasal, also a Democrat, announced she will run to challenge GOP Rep. Jen Kiggans. Cotter Smasal is backed by Rep. Jennifer McClellan and former Gov. Ralph Northam. 

Legislative race season: The Democratic National Committee directed $1.2 million toward Virginia’s legislative races this year under Biden’s direction, after urging from Sens. Mark Warner and Tim Kaine, The Washington Post reports.  

House Dems investing in GOTV: House Majority Forward, the nonprofit affiliate of House Majority PAC, announced Tuesday that it was launching a $20 million voter registration push focused on young people and Black, Latino, AAPI and Native American communities in regions across the country, from Alaska and northern Maine to suburban areas that are home to targeted races for 2024.

Revving up: Maine state Rep. Austin Theriault, a former NASCAR driver, has spoken with Speaker Kevin McCarthy and NRCC Chairman Richard Hudson about a challenge to Democratic Rep. Jared Golden. The Bangor Daily News reports that Theriault is set to finalize his campaign this month.

Didn’t happen: New Jersey’s State Commission of Investigation found “no merit” in charges made by the state’s former Republican state chairman, now a state senator, that the Princeton Gerrymandering Project manipulated data to create a pro-Democratic map when it advised the state redistricting commission’s nonpartisan tiebreaker in 2021 and 2022, the New Jersey Monitor reports. Republicans picked up a third New Jersey seat in the 2022 midterms with Thomas H. Kean Jr.’s defeat of Democrat Tom Malinowski.

New ad: Their Future PAC — the political arm of Their Future. Our Vote., an advocacy group for children — released a back-to-school ad this week addressing gun violence. The digital ad shows a student waking up for school, eating a bowl of cereal and packing up his gun. The final image of the student walking into the school with the weapon in hand is followed by the message: “Thoughts and prayers won’t stop this. Weak politicians won’t either.”

What we’re reading

Persuasion prescription: Independent voters have a dim view of Trump, Republicans, Biden and Democrats, so columnist David Winston says the best thing GOP presidential hopefuls can do in their next debate later this month is differentiate themselves from each other and Trump on policies that matter to voters, their leadership skills and why they believe they would beat Biden.

Political implications: The humanitarian crisis brought on by the arrival of thousands of migrants to New York and other blue-state cities may pose a headache for Democrats running for Congress next year. The Journal News examined the potential political fallout and the pressure on the Biden administration to address it.

Sworn in: People magazine catches up with former House candidate Ammar Campa-Najjar, a California Democrat who was painted as an “Islamist” trying to “infiltrate Congress” by his 2018 opponent, Republican Rep. Duncan Hunter. Campa-Najjar, a 34-year-old Latino and Arab American who is Christian, lost that race, as well as a subsequent run for Congress in 2020. This week he was sworn in as a U.S. naval officer.

The count: $25,011-$200,000

Somewhere in that range is the value of 11 stocks that appeared on Republican presidential candidate and South Carolina Sen. Tim Scott’s recently filed personal financial disclosure form for 2022 that Scott never previously reported buying, as Congress requires, CQ Roll Call’s Justin Papp reports. A campaign spokesman says Scott followed all the rules, which could mean he bought shares for less than the $1,000 threshold requiring purchase disclosures and then revealed the holdings when they appreciated in value beyond that point. Ten of the 11 stocks are valued in the $1,000 to $15,001 range. But one of them, in Boeing Corp., is valued between $15,000 and $50,001, leading some watchdogs to question whether Scott violated the law requiring regular disclosures of stock purchases. Scott’s spokesperson called the criticism “offensive, baseless and bogus allegations made by left-wing special interest groups.”

Nathan’s notes

Minnesota Democratic Rep. Dean Phillips’ outspoken calls last week for another Democrat, maybe or maybe not him, to challenge Biden for the 2024 nomination fell flat. Now Nathan asks whether he had the nod from House leadership to speak up, and what fallout he might face going forward.

Key race: WA-03

In 2022, auto repair shop owner Marie Gluesenkamp Pérez flipped Washington’s 3rd District for the Democrats by beating Joe Kent, a Trump-backed Republican, by about a percentage point. (The incumbent, Republican Jaime Herrera Beutler, was one of 10 House Republicans who voted to impeach Trump and lost the all-party primary.)

Kent announced earlier this year that he intends to run for the seat again, and last month he received the early endorsement of the Washington State Republican Party.

In the middle-class district in the southwestern part of the state, Gluesenkamp Pérez campaigned as a moderate Democrat who said she supports both abortion rights and 2nd Amendment rights. 

A member of the Blue Dog coalition of “fiscally responsible” Democrats, she and Maine’s Jared Golden were the only two members of the party who voted with Republicans in the House to repeal Biden’s student loan debt relief proposal, which the Supreme Court overturned earlier this year. Her vote drew the wrath of progressives, who directed a flood of negative reviews to her auto repair business. 

Gluesenkamp Pérez had more than $1 million in her campaign account at the end of the second quarter of 2023, according to filings with the Federal Election Commission. Kent had about $370,000 in the bank.

Inside Elections rates the race as a Toss-up.

Coming up

Vice President Kamala Harris launches a college tour next week that will include stops at universities in key swing states, including Arizona, Georgia, Nevada and Wisconsin.

Photo finish

Bill Richardson died Sept. 1, leaving a legacy that includes working as a staffer to Rep. Frank Bradford Morse, R-Mass., and being elected to the House eight times from New Mexico before he became U.N. ambassador, Energy secretary and governor of New Mexico. Along with being a diplomat, he was a gregarious politician often caught by the CQ Roll Call photo staff, such as when he took to the dance floor smoking a cigar at the 28th Annual Congressional Dinner on April 29, 1992. (Jamie Horwen/CQ Roll Call file photo)

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