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Democratic Utah Rep. Ben McAdams Says He Will Vote To Impeach President Trump

ARI SHAPIRO, HOST:

Most House Democrats in swing districts across the country voted in favor of impeaching President Trump today. Some say that could hurt their chances for reelection next year. One of those Democrats is Representative Ben McAdams. He is a freshman in a Utah district that President Trump won in 2016. From member station KUER, Nicole Nixon reports.

(SOUNDBITE OF PROTEST)

UNIDENTIFIED PROTESTERS: (Chanting) Hey, hey, ho, ho, Donald Trump has got to go. Hey, hey...

NICOLE NIXON, BYLINE: Chants like this were heard at scores of pro-impeachment rallies held around the country last night ahead of the House impeachment vote. At the Salt Lake City rally, a crowd of several hundred people braved below-freezing temperatures to chant an additional message.

(SOUNDBITE OF PROTEST)

UNIDENTIFIED PROTESTERS: (Chanting) Thank you, Ben. Thank you, Ben.

NIXON: That's, thank you, Ben, a message for Congressman Ben McAdams. McAdams represents a swing district that favors Republicans and won his seat by fewer than 700 votes last year, making him vulnerable in 2020. But he says he put political considerations aside in making the decision to vote for impeachment.

(SOUNDBITE OF ARCHIVED RECORDING)

BEN MCADAMS: I will vote yes, knowing full well the Senate will likely acquit the president in a display of partisan theater that Republicans and Democrats in Washington perform disturbingly well.

NIXON: Alexandra Johnson lives in McAdams' district just a few miles away. She leans further left than the moderate congressman and appreciates his decision to vote for impeachment.

ALEXANDRA JOHNSON: It shouldn't be a matter of party. And unfortunately, it is. But it's really the only reasonable action.

NIXON: Johnson says she wishes McAdams would be a little more liberal, but she understands why he's not.

JOHNSON: I think that given the people that he's representing, I think that he's striking a good balance between what is right and also what most of his constituents would believe in.

NIXON: Twenty miles south in the heart of McAdams' suburban district, Desiree Frederick is hosting a dozen voters in her home for a cottage meeting with a Republican candidate named Jay McFarland, who's looking to unseat the Democratic congressman next year. Frederick is a steadfast Republican but not a Trump supporter. On impeachment, she says she's...

DESIREE FREDERICK: Medium-no (ph) - I don't think that it's good for the country at this point in time.

NIXON: Frederick doesn't think there's enough evidence for a Senate trial and calls the whole thing a waste of time. A poll out this week shows people from Utah are divided on impeachment - 47% oppose removing the president and 43 support it. Frederick hadn't heard about McAdams' decision to vote for impeachment but says she's not all that surprised.

FREDERICK: You know, it's really bad, but I haven't really followed what his voting record is (laughter). Honestly, I'm more interested in what's going on locally right now.

NIXON: But her congressman's vote on impeachment doesn't matter much to Frederick because she plans to vote for his Republican opponent next year. And she admits there's almost nothing McAdams could do to sway her vote one way or the other. David Castillo is also there. He's been busy with a small business and a young family and says he hasn't been following the impeachment debate that much.

DAVID CASTILLO: But it's also been hard to want to listen to even when I do because, you know, if I listen to Fox News, it's, Democrats are crazy. If I listen to CNN, it's like, oh, my gosh, Trump is the biggest criminal in the world. So it's also just hard to get good info.

NIXON: Castillo lives just outside the congressional district but lists health care costs as one of his top concerns. He's a registered Republican but didn't vote for Trump in 2016, instead opting for an independent candidate named Evan McMullin. He says escalating political rhetoric is harming the country. And as it continues to heat up, Castillo says he's begun to consider dropping out of the GOP.

For NPR News, I'm Nicole Nixon in Salt Lake City.

(SOUNDBITE OF MUSIC) Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.