VPM, BEN PAVIOUR
Democratic Congresswoman Abigail Spanberger announced on Monday that she’ll back impeachment proceedings against President Trump, setting the stage for a complicated 2020 re-election fight.
After months of sidestepping her fellow Democrats’ calls for impeachment proceedings, Spanberger announced that she’s open to the process as a means to investigate the latest allegations against Trump.
The president allegedly withheld a $391 military aid package to Ukraine while pressing the country’s president to investigate the son of Sen. Joe Biden (D-Delaware).
“I am not prescribing an outcome or assigning guilt or innocence,” Spanberger said. “In this circumstance, we are dealing with a real issue of national security.”
Spanberger campaigned in 2018 as a no-nonsense former CIA operative willing to work across the aisle. The strategy gave her a narrow win over Tea Party Republican Dave Brat in the sprawling, conservative-leaning 7th Congressional District.
In Congress, Spanberger has focused on issues like rural broadband internet and prescription drug prices, keeping a distance from more progressive Democrats on issues like impeachment. Recent national polling suggests impeachment is popular among Democrats but divisive among independents, who helped hand Spanberger her seat in 2018.
Spanberger said she believed voters in her district would back her calculated approach to impeachment.
“I trust that the voters are going to determine that either proving or disproving these allegations against the president are vitally important to our national security,” Spanberger said.
Impeachment is all but certain to become an issue in 2020; hours after Spanberger and Congresswoman Elaine Luria announced their support for the inquiry in the Washington Post, the right-wing Congressional Leadership Fund attacked her decision.
“Congresswomen Luria and Spanberger’s decision to back impeachment will be seared into the mind of every voter as a reminder that their irrational hatred of President Trump took priority over the will of the constituents who elected him to office in the first place,” said CLF Spokesman Calvin Moore.
Spanberger’s most salient re-election threat so far is Tina Ramirez, a single mother and religious freedom advocate who announced her candidacy in April.
Ramirez raised almost $100,000 through the end of June, suggesting donors are taking the first-time candidate’s run seriously. Spanberger took in over $1 million during the first half of the year.
Political analyst Bob Holsworth said Ramirez is a strong candidate, but will likely have competition in the GOP primary from state lawmakers. Sen. Bryce Reeves, Del. Nick Freitas and Del. John Maguire have all been mentioned as possible contenders.
“The reason is that nationally, this is one of the races that’s likely to be targeted,” Holsworth said. “And what that means is that there’ll be national money coming in to compete with Abigail Spanberger.”
Holsworth said Spanberger’s tight 2018 campaign and extensive outreach to rural voters in the district worked in her favor, but called her embrace of impeachment “reluctant.”
“I think what she believes now is that she can make a defensible case based on her national security credentials,” Holsworth said. “Spanberger’s a great candidate, but this is a tough district and there’s going to be a number of Republicans probably seeking to compete with her.”