Spanberger’s announcement came as fellow Democrats released solemn statements in support of impeaching a president for only the third time in the nation’s history — and Republican lawmakers continued to rally around Trump.
Like Spanberger and Luria, Rep. Elissa Slotkin (D-Mich.) is a freshman congresswoman with national security bona fides who won a red district. In revealing her plan to vote yes on the articles Monday, she acknowledged the move could cost her a second term.
The rush of announcements added to the partisan fervor in Washington, with Rep. Jeff Van Drew (D-N.J.), an impeachment opponent, planning to switch parties and support the president.
Republican backlash against targeted Democrats in pro-Trump districts, including Spanberger and Luria, was swift, as Republicans promised to mount aggressive campaigns against them next year.
But Stephen Farnsworth, a political science professor in Virginia, said American politics is so polarized that the freshman lawmakers’ votes may not imperil their reelection prospects.
“The people who support Trump were not going to be voting for Spanberger or Luria,” said Farnsworth, of the University of Mary Washington. “Doing the right thing as one sees it as a politician is a lot easier when there is not much of a political downside to doing so.”
At the heart of the Democrats’ impeachment case is the allegation that Trump tried to leverage a White House meeting and military aid for Ukraine to pressure that country to investigate former vice president Joe Biden, a political rival, and his son Hunter.
Trump also wanted Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky to launch a probe of an unfounded theory that Kyiv conspired with Democrats to interfere in the 2016 presidential election.
Spanberger, a former CIA officer, said that before reaching a decision, she read the articles, as well as majority and minority reports, transcripts and public testimony.
“The President’s actions violate his oath of office, endanger our national security, and betray the public trust,” she said in a statement. “This vote is about more than one man’s abuse of power; it is about the power of the presidency and whether we, as citizens, can expect that our elected officials, and most powerfully, our President, will fulfill their obligation to uphold the Constitution.” Her plans were first reported by NBC12 WWBT in Richmond.
Eight Republicans are running against Spanberger, including state Dels. Nicholas J. Freitas (Culpeper) and John J. McGuire III (Henrico), both military veterans; and Tina Ramirez, a first-time candidate who leads a nonprofit. They will face off in a party-run convention next year.
Each quickly condemned Spanberger as too liberal for the district, which includes bellwether suburbs such as Chesterfield, as well as deep-red rural counties in central Virginia.
Freitas said Spanberger’s vote proves she “is fully committing to dumping her ‘moderate’ facade and showing us that she is a radical Democrat who will . . . vote how leadership wants, regardless of how her constituents feel about it.”
McGuire echoed the sentiment, calling Spanberger a “fraud from day one.”
Spanberger has insisted she is independent and voting based on her conscience, noting she broke with the vast majority of congressional Democrats earlier this year by not voting for Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) for House speaker.
Luria, a former naval commander, told reporters Friday that she would vote to impeach the president.
“Voting to impeach President Trump was not an easy decision or one I take lightly — but I take my oath seriously, and I will be voting in favor of both articles of impeachment this week,” she said in a statement Monday.
At least three Republicans have filed paperwork to challenge Luria, including Ben Loyola, a retired Navy captain. Voters will choose a GOP nominee in a primary. Loyola said in a statement that he was “disappointed but not surprised by Elaine Luria’s move to the left in voting for impeachment.”
Luria and Spanberger are joining four of their five fellow Virginia House Democrats and all Maryland House Democrats supporting impeachment. Only Rep. Robert C. “Bobby” Scott (D-Va.) said, through a spokesman, that he is still reviewing the articles and the Judiciary Committee’s report.
Virginia’s four Republican members of Congress, and Rep. Andy Harris, the only GOP member of Maryland’s delegation, are expected to support the president and vote against impeachment.