Forget guns, climate change, immigration, taxes, spending, education, infrastructure and everything else you thought might have been the big issue in the 2020 elections.
The only issue that matters is the impeachment inquiry underway in the House of Representatives.
You missed that huge development, the one that could bring everything official Washington does to an immediate halt?
So did a few members of the Virginia congressional delegation. They may want to start paying close attention.
Just a day before The Post published an article on the all-but-official inquiry, The Post’s Jenna Portnoy reported that Rep. Gerald E. Connolly was joining fellow Northern Virginians Rep. Don Beyer and Jennifer Wexton and about 120 of their Democratic colleagues in calling for just such an investigation.
Because House Judiciary Committee Chairman Jerrold Nadler (D-N.Y.) has said formal impeachment proceedings are happening right now, we’ll put Beyer, Connolly and Wexton down as “yes” votes should articles of impeachment make it to the House floor by the end of the year.
Aside from making the Iowa caucuses much more interesting, this greatly complicate the political lives and reelection prospects of two other Virginia Democrats: Reps. Elaine Luria and Abigail Spanberger.
The freshmen lawmakers defeated Republican incumbents in 2018 — no mean feat considering both districts are drawn to favor a Republican (Luria’s 2nd District is +3 GOP, while Spanberger’s 7th is +6 GOP).
It’s no surprise, then, to find Luria and Spanberger on the “don’t open an impeachment inquiry right now” list.
As much as both may dislike the current Oval Office occupant, the political risk of joining the impeachment parade is enormous.
So they have deflected the issue. Luria said, “If people have complaints about how we’re being governed, they should get out and they should vote.”
Spanberger said she’s undecided on an impeachment inquiry and prefers to spend her energy trying to “get stuff done.”
Fair enough. But the Judiciary Committee appears to have made such deflections meaningless. The impeachment inquiry is already happening. If Nadler’s timetable is correct, articles of impeachment might hit the House floor before year’s end.
What would Luria and Spanberger do?
The progressive base will not allow them to duck, dodge and dive on impeachment. It’s yes or no.
And forget about abstaining. Heading into a presidential election year, abstention would be akin to conceding the general election (if not guaranteeing a primary challenge, first).
Maybe Reps. Don McEachin and Robert C. “Bobby” Scott could offer guidance. Neither has made a decision about an inquiry, either.
The difference is that McEachin and Scott represent safe Democratic districts. They could support the inquiry, even vote for impeachment, and not face serious Republican opposition for doing so.
So they aren’t much help to Luria and Spanberger.
What about the other big-name Democrat on the Virginia ballot in 2020: Sen. Mark R. Warner?
Warner’s wafer-thin victory over Republican Ed Gillespie in 2014 demolished his presidential ambitions. But fortune, and a slot on the Senate Intelligence Committee investigating Russian interference in the 2016 elections, gave Warner plenty of opportunities to become a full-throated resistance leader.
To his credit, Warner has declined to do so, just as he’s decided to keep the impeachment fray at arm’s length. In an interview with Wired magazine, Warner said he gets why people are upset with Trump’s “activities and tweets and antics.”
But, as with Luria, Warner said he thinks the best way to fix it “is to defeat [Trump] at the ballot box in a free and fair election.”
This gives Luria and Spanberger a bit of high-level cover in the commonwealth — for now.
But if articles of impeachment do get to the floor, neither Warner’s cover nor mad deflection skills would save Luria and Spanberger from having to cast a vote that will define the 2020 election and their prospects for reelection.