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Michigan's Moderate Democrats Shy Away From Joining Calls For Impeachment

Elissa Slotkin takes questions from the audience in Howell at her third official town hall. She demurred, when asked to take a position on an impeachment inquiry now that 137 House Democrats support impeachment or an inquiry.
Abigail Censky
Elissa Slotkin takes questions from the audience in Howell at her third official town hall. She demurred, when asked to take a position on an impeachment inquiry now that 137 House Democrats support impeachment or an inquiry.

Over the August recess the number of Democrats in the House of Representatives in favor of impeachment or an impeachment inquiry has increased to more than half of the chamber’s Democrats. But most of the Democrats who have signed on to support an inquiry are from solidly blue districts. WKAR’s politics reporter Abigail Censky talked with WKAR Host Karel Vega about what Democrats from republican leaning districts in Michigan are thinking.

Interview Highlights

It Matters Which Way Your District Leans

“In Michigan representatives Andy Levin, Rashida Tlaib, Brenda Lawrence and Dan Kildee are for impeachment or an impeachment inquiry. And that leaves Representatives Elissa Slotkin, Haley Stevens and Debbie Dingell against. 137 House Democrats now support an inquiry, which is over half. But the problem is speaker Nancy Pelosi doesn't want to act and put those moderate democrats in a tough spot because those were the ones that helped flip the house in 2018.”

When the question of impeachment was raised at the town halls, both Slotkin and Stevens chose to delay taking a position until they had all the information. Of the 137 House Democrats who support impeachment or an inquiry, few of them are from republican leaning districts or areas that voted for Trump. According to Politico, Michigan’s 11th Congressional District represented by Stevens, leans republican by four points and Michigan’s 8th Congressional District, represented by Slotkin leans republican by seven points. The middling stances on impeachment compared to many of their House peers becomes more understandable when contrasted with the relative safety of Democrats proposing impeachment. For example, Rashida Tlaib’s 13th Congressional District, leans democrat by 61 points making it much more politically palatable for her to introduce an impeachment resolution.

Stevens Vows She Won’t Be Complicit

“Stevens emphasized process and her response to this was her response once the crowd quieted down, ‘I believe in in the process here. I am not being complicit. I am not gonna let you down. Certainly, very favorable and enthusiastic and [I will] push for the investigations, the conversations that questions that we all deserve.’”

Stevens echoed Slotkin’s rebuttals of focusing on process first. Now, for many Democrats still deliberating what their final position will be, the next step is for the Trump administration to respond to subpoenas from the House of Representatives when lawmakers return in early September.

Simply Not The Top Issue, Says Slotkin

“When I spoke to representative Slotkin, after the event, she said, This isn't the only issue that people talk with her about. she maintains those are things like PFAS, and rising prescription drug costs. This is what she told me: ‘I would say at every post look at man, I get at least one question about it. But I get, frankly, way more people talking to me about health care and prescription drugs than I do about impeachment. So, it's an issue for people in the district. But it's not the only issue.’”

Slotkin maintains rising prescription drug costs and Michigan specific environmental issues like PFAS contamination and Line 5 are the issues she’s approached about by constituents, not impeachment. The largest applause line of the night was, indeed, when she said she was in favor of shutting down Line 5—the oil pipeline that flows under the straits of Makinac in Lake Michigan.

Voters Cosign Moderation

“I do think that her responses are so balanced and reasonable that most reasonable people will understand why she's making the decision she is. And I do understand why she wants to be certain that she has the public going along with her. And all of us have to help give her that.”

Several voters at the Cleary University town hall supported Slotkin’s moderation. That was the case for Patricia Onelio, a retiree living in Brighton, who sat in the front row holding an “Impeachment Now!” sign. Onelio said, while impeachment was a priority for her, Slotkin was “spot on” talking about healthcare and the environment. She said the congresswoman wouldn’t lose her support even if she didn’t support an impeachment inquiry.

Follow Abigail on Twitter: @AbigailCensky

Student Reporter Maxim Jenkins contributed to this reporting. 

Abigail Censky is the Politics & Government reporter at WKAR. She started in December 2018.
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