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How Jared Golden's Constituents React To His Announcement To Back Just 1 Of 2 Impeachment Articles

Robbie Feinberg
Maine Public
The lunchtime crowd at popular Lewiston hot dog stand Simones' on Wednesday.

After months of news coverage and weeks of hearings, the U.S. House is set to vote Wednesday on two articles of impeachment against President Donald Trump.

U.S. Rep. Chellie Pingree of Maine has already said she’ll support both articles, for abuse of power and obstructing Congress. But fellow Democrat Jared Golden, who represents a district that overwhelmingly supported Trump in 2016, has been more cautious.

Tuesday, Golden announced that he would vote to impeach Trump over abuse of power in his dealings with Ukraine, but would not support the charge that the president obstructed Congress. On Wednesday, at a popular eatery in Golden’s hometown, patrons shared a small, random sample of opinions on impeachment and on Golden’s position.

Despite a layer of fresh snow on the ground, the lunchtime seats at Simones’ hot dog stand in Lewiston are packed. Diners were mostly split on the highly anticipated impeachment vote.

“I think it’s a mess. It’s dog-bite-dog. I think the Democrats are all out just to get him. They want to be in control,” says Ray Brule of Greene.

Brule says he supported Trump in 2016 and believes the president shouldn’t be removed. But seated by the window, Pauline and Edward LaFrance say Trump has shown time and time again that he’s not fit to lead.

Credit Robbie Feinberg / Maine Public
Maine Public
Edward and Pauline LaFrance of Lewiston.

“You can’t have a president who lies all the time. He gets caught in it. And he gets out of it, and ‘Oh, well.’ I get tired of it and I don’t listen to it anymore. I get tired of it,” Pauline says.

“I don’t think the American people can afford him anymore,” Edward says.

For Brule and the LaFrances, the hearings didn’t appear to change how they planned to vote in next year’s presidential election. But a few diners say the impeachment saga has led them to rethink their positions on Golden, a first-term Democrat in the 2nd District, which strongly supported Trump in 2016.

Golden has said that after a thorough review, he decided to support Article One, charging the president with abuse of power in his dealings with Ukrainian officials earlier this year. But he declined to go along with the second article, alleging obstruction of Congress.

That decision resonated with some voters, including Mitch Lovering of Winthrop. Lovering says he supported Trump in 2016 and plans to stick with him.

Credit Robbie Feinberg / Maine Public
Maine Public
Mitch Lovering

“I agree with what he said — it’s a witch hunt. I’m not just 99 percent, I’m 100 percent against it. In fact, I’ll vote for him again as president,” he says.

But Lovering says Golden’s decision to split the vote on the two articles shows that he is thinking for himself and not just voting the party line.

“Because If he was just voting the line, it’s all or none. But I think he looked at the whole thing. And I liked that. Because some people are just, ‘Oh, impeach him. No matter what.’ And then some people, ‘Oh, he could shoot somebody, it’s OK, he’s a Republican.’ You know what I mean? It’s just the lines. They draw the lines. But he separated a little bit. So I like that,” he says.

But for others, including Roger Martel of Lewiston, Golden’s anticipated vote was a disappointment.

“At first I didn’t think too much of him. But as time went on, I really got to like Golden a lot. And I had liked him more and more as time went on. Until this vote today,” he says.

And if the lunch crowd here at Simones’ is any indication, impeachment is clearly a divisive topic within the community — even among friends. When the issue was brought up with two self-identified golf buddies sitting together, they quickly began to argue over the fairness of the hearings.

Originally published Dec. 18, 2019 at 4:24 p.m. ET.