Many of the Democrats challenging GOP incumbents in the north Atlanta suburbs say it’s too soon for their party to push for impeaching President Donald Trump on Capitol Hill.
Few if any of the Democrats seeking to unseat U.S. Reps. Karen Handel and Rob Woodall in Georgia’s 6th and 7th congressional districts are publicly embracing the campaign from some prominent liberals, including California-based megadonor Tom Steyer, to boot the commander-in-chief ahead of the midterms.
Most of the Democrats running in Georgia’s two most competitive congressional races have either dodged the question entirely or argued that Congress should wait until after special counsel Robert Mueller concludes his investigation of Russia’s involvement in the 2016 election before making any decisions.
“Impeachment is a very serious process. We must allow the investigative process to continue and see where the evidence leads,” said Carolyn Bourdeaux, one of six Democrats vying to challenge Woodall in the 7th this year. She said she had “very serious concerns about the President’s conflicts of interests.”
Many of Bourdeaux’s opponents in the 7th offered similar answers, including Kathleen Allen, Ethan Pham and Steve Reilly, who said he would support impeachment if Mueller’s probe dug up adequate evidence.
Kevin Abel, a businessman looking to unseat Handel, said if charges are brought against Trump, “Congress should make a decision based on the evidence presented.”
Other Democratic candidates, including Bobby Kaple and Lucy McBath in the 6th and David Kim and Melissa Davis in the 7th, did not respond to a request for comment.
Democratic leaders on Capitol Hill have tamped down on impeachment talk in recent months. Many fear it could hurt the party’s chances to win over independent voters this November, which they see as key to retaking control of the House.
Georgia’s 10 GOP lawmakers in the House have been broadly supportive of Trump and his agenda – each has voted for White House-backed legislation at least 89 percent of the time, according to the political blog FiveThirtyEight -- and few have been willing to criticize him publicly, much less entertain Democrats’ impeachment talk.
Woodall said at a recent 7th District Republican forum that Mueller should finish his probe so that there are no questions about Trump’s leadership, but added that “it offends me the way the president has been maligned for what folks have shown absolutely no proof of whatsoever.”
Shane Hazel, a former Marine challenging Woodall in that district’s primary, said “collusion like they have talked about is not a crime in the first place and so it should be dismissed and Mueller should probably be terminated at the president’s discretion.”
Many Republicans have been eager to capitalize on the Democrats’ divide on the issue, using the prospect of a Democratically-controlled House bringing impeachment proceedings against the president as fundraising fodder. The Republican Governors Association encouraged Steyer earlier this month to host a debate between Georgia’s two candidates for governor so “they can explain to the people of Georgia why they should stand behind his divisive, radical agenda.”
Nearly every major Democratic candidate avoided an impeachment-themed town hall event Steyer held in Atlanta on Monday, but longshot Handel challenger Steven Knight Griffin did attend.
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