Saturday October 31st, 2020 4:01AM

Impeachment may complicate 2020 for lonely Michigan moderate

By The Associated Press
Related Articles
  Contact Editor

KALAMAZOO, Mich. (AP) — For more than 30 years and under five presidents, Republican Rep. Fred Upton easily won reelection to his southwest Michigan House seat by promoting “common-sense values” and bipartisan accomplishments.

Republicans and even many Democrats have appreciated his moderate views and the way he hustled around the district on his days back home, meeting people at schools and senior homes and doing weekly radio interviews.

But then came the hyperpolarized politics of the Donald Trump era. Now no one, including Upton, really knows what the future holds for him heading into the 2020 election.

For officeholders who were proud of holding the middle ground and working with the opposing party, big questions loom about whether being a moderate is still a viable political position, or whether the impeachment storm sweeping U.S. politics will force everyone to accept a new identity — pro-Trump or anti-Trump — and await voters’ judgment on it.

What happens to this ever-shrinking group of politicians — a dozen or so left after a rash of retirements or midterm losses — could make a big difference in which party emerges on top when the televised hearings have ended and the votes are counted next November. Some of the seats are in key swing states like Michigan, typically in suburban or fast-growing areas like Upton’s. His largely white district stretches from tourist destinations along Lake Michigan and across rural, Republican communities to more diverse Kalamazoo, home to Western Michigan University.

“There’s no joy in Mudville,” Upton said in a September statement about the inquiry.

Upton walked a careful line in that statement and others since, calling developments around Trump’s dealings with Ukraine disconcerting but saying the proceedings are preventing progress on other issues. He joined other Republicans last month in voting against holding impeachment hearings.

Democrats have made Upton one of their top targets for 2020 after he survived his closest election in decades last year. He faces a state lawmaker from Kalamazoo, the district’s Democratic base in its most populous county, and activists from outside the state already are coming in to provide reinforcements for local Democrats. Meanwhile, questions swirl about whether Upton, 66, may just opt to retire.

His office said he was unavailable for an Associated Press interview, but he told a local TV station that he has never announced his intentions as early as a year out from Election Day.

So far this cycle, Upton has raised almost $1 million for his campaign fund, roughly the same amount as at this same time two years ago. His top opponent, Democratic state Rep. Jon Hoadley, has raised about $525,000 — double the amount Upton’s 2018 opponent had raised at this point in the last cycle.

Mark Miller, a former chairman of the 6th Congressional District Democrats who now serves as a local township clerk, believes Upton has been trying carefully to avoid angering Trump supporters or the independent voters and Democrats who helped give him double-digit victory margins over the years.

“I don't know how long he can keep that high-wire act going,” Miller said, particularly as polls show support for impeachment growing among independents as well as Democrats.

“What we’ve heard year after year from those voters is ‘Good old Fred. He’s a good guy. He’s OK by me,’” Miller said, adding that a vote against impeachment should peel off a number of those independents. “The question is: Will it be enough?”

John Gregory, an Air Force veteran who works in the aerospace industry, said that for most of his career, Upton has been in touch with the district, but that he’s seemed to shift toward the right. He said he knows others — veterans and non-veterans — who are concerned about what they’re hearing during impeachment proceedings and want Upton to “put his oath of office above party politics.”

“He was elected because I think a lot of people here feel he’s a good moderate and represents the district, but there are a lot of questions right now,” the 57-year-old said.

Republicans argue Upton — described by Vice President Joe Biden last year as “one of the finest guys” he’s worked with — has delivered for the district and is a better fit for the area than Hoadley. The National Republican Campaign Committee has called Hoadley an “open socialist” whose support for the Green New Deal would hurt Michigan’s auto industry.

Trump and Republicans hope that rather than hurt GOP candidates, the impeachment effort will help rally the president’s base. They’re targeting vulnerable Democrats with TV and digital ads and holding protests outside their offices.

Democrats running in places like Upton’s district, meanwhile, are far more muted on the topic — at least for now.

If voters ask his views, Hoadley says, he tells them the inquiry is both appropriate and necessary.

But the 36-year-old — who likes to mention he was 3 when Upton was first elected to Congress — is more focused on introducing himself to voters he says are “hungry for change.”

On the campaign trail, Hoadley says he’s talking about climate change, water quality and Upton’s role in the Trump administration’s attempt to repeal the Affordable Care Act, the Obama-era health law.

Upton helped write an amendment to the GOP’s repeal plan that expanded its coverage for preexisting conditions. The measure, which drew some bipartisan support, died in the Senate.

Upton said it was an example of how he’s stood up to Trump when he felt it necessary.

Marj Halperin, a leader of the Chicago chapter of Indivisible, a progressive organization, said Democrats’ efforts on the ground are focused on issues other than impeachment.

Halperin was among more than a dozen people who traveled to southwest Michigan last Saturday to bolster the push in a key 2020 state. The group knocked on more than 600 doors to identify voters, provide information about Michigan’s new law allowing absentee voting for all registered voters, and talk about Hoadley and Democratic statehouse candidates.

“We aren’t going to sit back and wait to see how an impeachment hearing works out,” Halperin said.

But Upton likely won’t be able to avoid the impeachment spotlight for long. Democrats are practically giddy about a photo of Upton with Trump that House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy tweeted last month.

In it, McCarthy, Upton and Rep. Tom Emmer, chairman of the House Republicans’ campaign arm, sit at a table with a beaming Trump in the president’s Washington hotel, platters of shrimp cocktail before them. McCarthy’s tweet read “Great night with the President. Republicans are united!”

The photo, and the timing of it, is likely to be featured prominently in campaign ads next year.

Democrats say it’s a reminder that Upton isn’t really the moderate he says he is. It’s also another sign of the deep political divide, when sharing a table with your party’s president could become an election liability.

“That picture really did say 1,000 words,” Hoadley said.

  • Associated Categories: Associated Press (AP), AP National News, AP Online National News, Top General short headlines, AP Online Headlines - Washington, AP Online Congress News, AP Elections, General Election News, General Presidential Election News, General House Election News, AP Elections - Political Conventions
© Copyright 2020
All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed without permission.
Impeachment may complicate 2020 for lonely Michigan moderate
Republican Rep. Fred Upton has easily won reelection to his southwest Michigan House seat for more than 30 years by touting his “common-sense values” and bipartisan accomplishments
12:02AM ( 6 minutes ago )
Biden heads to Iowa looking for a rebound in key state
Joe Biden is launching an eight-day bus tour in Iowa with barely two months remaining before the Feb. 3 Iowa presidential caucuses
11:59PM ( 9 minutes ago )
Powerful storm interrupts nation’s busiest travel weekend
A powerful storm making its way east from California is causing major disruptions during the year’s busiest travel weekend.
11:55PM ( 13 minutes ago )
Associated Press (AP)
10 animals killed in barn fire at Ohio wildlife park
Officials in Ohio say at least 10 animals have been killed in a barn fire at a wildlife park
9:21PM ( 2 hours ago )
Flames coach Bill Peters quits; accused of slurs, abuse
Calgary coach Bill Peters resigns amid allegations of slurs, player abuse in previous jobs
8:47PM ( 3 hours ago )
PG&E says blackouts limited fires despite 1 likely failure
The nation’s largest utility said its distribution lines haven’t sparked any major wildfires since it began shutting off power to Northern California customers during periods of high fire risk
7:28PM ( 4 hours ago )
AP National News
Who made the new drapes? It’s among high court’s mysteries
The Supreme Court’s role in a bitterly divided Washington and nation may be more important than ever, yet basic details about how the court operates remain obscured.
4:50PM ( 7 hours ago )
2 killed in London stabbings; police fatally shoot suspect
A man wearing a fake explosive vest stabbed several people before being tackled by members of the public and then shot dead by armed officers on London Bridge, police and the city’s mayor say
4:43PM ( 7 hours ago )
Black Friday kicks off scramble in a shorter shopping season
A shorter holiday shopping season means a more intense scramble for both retailers and customers
4:05PM ( 8 hours ago )
AP Online National News
Iraqi prime minister to resign in wake of deadly protests
Iraq’s prime minister say he will submit resignation to parliament in wake of deadly protests
3:43PM ( 8 hours ago )
Trump to meet Macron, Merkel at NATO summit
The White House says President Donald Trump will meet German Chancellor Angela Merkel and French President Emmanuel Macron on the sidelines of next week’s NATO summit in London
12:43PM ( 11 hours ago )
The Latest: Trump back in US after his visit to Afghanistan
President Donald Trump is back in the United States after his Thanksgiving visit to Afghanistan
12:18PM ( 11 hours ago )
AP Online Headlines - Washington
Iraq’s top cleric warns against chaos and worsening crisis
Iraq’s top Shiite cleric warns of civil war after a deadly day of violence in which security forces shot dead 40 people in the capital and the southern provinces, inviting lawmakers who elected the current government into office to “reconsider.”
6:48AM ( 17 hours ago )
Hong Kong police end 12-day siege of university
Police in Hong Kong are preparing to reopen access to a university campus after blocking it for 12 days to try to arrest any protesters holed up inside
4:50AM ( 19 hours ago )
Sabbath buses barrel through Israel’s religious-secular rift
Tel Aviv has taken a major step to cement its status as Israel’s secular Mecca, launching a public transit system operating on Saturdays and redrawing the lines in the Jewish state’s culture wars between religious and secular citizens
2:04AM ( 22 hours ago )
AP Online Congress News
AP Explains: What awaits Suriname’s convicted president?
AP Explains: Suriname’s president, Desi Bouterse, has been convicted in the 1982 killings of 15 political opponents and sentenced to 20 years in prison. What happens next?
5:58PM ( 6 hours ago )
Johnson seeks to focus UK election on Brexit, not his flaws
Prime Minister Boris Johnson is struggling to move Britain’s election debate away from questions about his character and onto Brexit, promising to bolster protection for British businesses and farmers once the country has left the European Union
8:25AM ( 15 hours ago )
Candidate for Uruguay governing coalition concedes election
The presidential candidate for Uruguay’s governing coalition has conceded defeat after a second round of voting
3:59PM ( 1 day ago )
AP Elections
Trump campaign, GOP groups attack Google’s new ad policy
President Donald Trump’s reelection campaign and the Republican National Committee are criticizing tech giant Google for making it harder for political advertisers to target specific types of people
6:14PM ( 3 days ago )
Bloomberg: US would benefit from more, not fewer, immigrants
Presidential candidate Michael Bloomberg says the United States needs “an awful lot more immigrants rather than less.”
5:20PM ( 3 days ago )
Kamala Harris proposes doubling mental health treatment beds
Democratic presidential candidate Kamala Harris wants to double the number of mental health treatment beds available across the country and increase access to virtual mental health counseling
6:05AM ( 3 days ago )
General Presidential Election News
The Latest: Fiona Hill to warn of more Russian interference
A former National Security Council aide will tell the House impeachment hearing that one of the central Republican talking points _ that Ukraine interfered in the 2016 U.S. election _ is a ‘fictional narrative’ propagated by Russian security services
9:03AM ( 1 week ago )
The Latest: Hill slams ‘fictional narrative’ about Ukraine
A former National Security Council aide will tell the House impeachment hearing that one of the central Republican talking points _ that Ukraine interfered in the 2016 U.S. election _ is a ‘fictional narrative’ propagated by Russian security services
8:07AM ( 1 week ago )
No clear champ as Johnson, Corbyn spar in UK election debate
Prime Minister Boris Johnson and opposition leader Jeremy Corbyn have attacked each other’s policies on Brexit, health care and the economy in a televised election debate, an underpowered encounter that did little to bring a lackluster campaign to life
5:53PM ( 1 week ago )
General House Election News
As more men run, Klobuchar makes case for ‘woman candidate’
Amy Klobuchar does not want to run for president as a ‘woman candidate’
6:37AM ( 4 days ago )
Michael Bloomberg launches Democratic presidential bid
Billionaire Democrat Michael Bloomberg launches presidential campaign
5:36PM ( 5 days ago )
Bloomberg vows to refuse donations, presidential salary
New York billionaire Michael Bloomberg vows to refuse donations, presidential salary as 2020 bid appears imminent
11:51PM ( 6 days ago )
AP Elections - Political Conventions
Biden heads to Iowa looking for a rebound in key state
Joe Biden is launching an eight-day bus tour in Iowa with barely two months remaining before the Feb. 3 Iowa presidential caucuses
11:59PM ( 9 minutes ago )
Powerful storm interrupts nation’s busiest travel weekend
A powerful storm making its way east from California is causing major disruptions during the year’s busiest travel weekend.
11:55PM ( 14 minutes ago )
Lamb, Warren lead Pacers past Young, Hawks in OT
Jeremy Lamb scored 20 points, T.J. Warren hit a go-ahead 3-pointer and the Indiana Pacers outlasted Trae Young and the Atlanta Hawks 105-104 in overtime Friday night Young matched his career high with 49 points in the Hawks’ ninth straight loss
10:54PM ( 1 hour ago )
Peru’s Keiko Fujimori leaves prison after top court ruling
Once-powerful opposition leader and two-time Peruvian presidential candidate Keiko Fujimori has left prison to the cheers of her supporters and criticism by opponents who called it another blow for impunity for the corrupt
10:52PM ( 1 hour ago )
UK police: Bridge attacker had been jailed for terror crimes
A man imprisoned six years for terrorism offenses before his release last year stabbed several people in London, two fatally, before being tackled by members of the public and then fatally shot by officers on London Bridge
10:17PM ( 1 hour ago )