Democratic Rep. Ben McAdams says that as gut-wrenching and politically dicey as his vote was to impeach President Donald Trump, he’s now moving on — and is seeking to work with Trump and his allies on important issues.
“I felt what the president did was wrong and warranted impeachment. The process yielded a different outcome. I’m not going to continually relitigate a process that has concluded for me. My focus in on the next issues in front of us,” he told The Salt Lake Tribune editorial board on Tuesday.
He said he learned that approach when he was a state senator, and often lost votes in a body where Republicans held a supermajority — but needed GOP support to pass any bill.
“I learned that you can’t be emotional about the last vote,” he said. “You can’t make it personal. You’ve got to be able to work with people who you passionately disagreed with a minute ago. You’re hoping to passionately agree on the next vote…. The most important vote is the next vote.”
He said the approach could help fix a broken Washington.
“You have to try to get some things done,” he said. “That includes, I think, responsibility to work with the president to try to take him at his word that we want to work together to address the high cost of prescription drugs, to invest in our country’s infrastructure” and address other issues supported by the public.
He added, as part of an explanation of why he is endorsing former New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg for president, “These times call for pragmatism and somebody who can work with people they disagree with.”
McAdams won by fewer than 700 votes in his tight swing district. He says he’s confident he made the correct decision on impeachment — but is unsure whether it might cost him reelection.
“I don’t know,” he said.
“We made a conscious decision that we were not going to poll about impeachment,” he said.
“It’s not a decision you make based on polls,” he added. “You make that decision based on facts, your conscience and the Constitution — and the decisions fall where they may.”
While his campaign has done no polling, a poll by UtahPolicy.com and KUTV showed his approval rating fell by 11 points after his vote to impeach. It found 43% of likely voters approve of his job performance compared to 40% who do not.
“But it’s still higher than the rest of the delegation,” McAdams said. He approval fell most dramatically, not surprisingly, among strong Republicans — but McAdams said few of them would likely vote for him anyway.
While McAdams says he is trying to move on and away from impeachment, some of his Republican opponents predict that won’t be possible — and that his vote will be perhaps the key issue in this year’s election.
“I know he would like to move on from it, but I don’t think that the voters of District 4 are going to let him,” said Jay McFarland, a former KSL radio personality running against McAdams. “It was not a decision that was representative of the district.”
McFarland said the district is far more conservative than McAdams, and his vote “just magnified that by a thousand.”
Candidate Kathleen Anderson, a party activist, agreed.
“I can understand why he is trying to distance himself from it. I do believe it is the issue that will keep him from being reelected,” she said. “I do believe that he’s mobilized supporters of the president in a significant way, and it will come back to be the decisive issue of the Nov. 3 election.”
Republican candidates Kim Coleman and Burgess Owens did not immediately respond to a request for comment.
But showing that McAdams does care how Republicans and others feel in his district, he said he strongly considered voting for a GOP resolution to scold and launch an ethics investigation into House Speaker Nancy Pelosi for tearing up on national TV her copy of Trump’s State of the Union speech — but decided against it in the end.
“I went up on the floor to tell her that I was going to vote against the motion, but it shouldn’t be construed to mean that I approve of her actions because I do disapprove of her actions,” McAdams said, adding he decided it is not productive to pass a resolution anytime someone agrees with another’s action.
McAdams said that while his own vote was to impeach, people he admires reached an opposite conclusion — and he is still able to respect them and move on.
“Romney should be commended for making a decision based on principle and in making a very hard decision,” McAdams said. “I want to acknowledge that there are other people who reached different decisions that were also principled decisions.”