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How Impeachment Talk Is Playing Among Central Ohio Voters

Lee Alderson in front of his barbershop in the Hilltop.
Nick Evans
Lee Alderson in front of his barbershop in the Hilltop.

Ohio’s U.S. representatives are splittingalong party lines as Congress moves forward with an impeachment inquiry of President Trump over his soliciting of political favors from Ukraine. In Central Ohio, the physical distance is short between lawmakers sitting at different ends of that spectrum.

Democratic Rep. Joyce Beatty, a steady critic of the president’s actions, represents a Columbus district just a few miles from the one represented by Republican Rep. Jim Jordan, perhaps the president’s staunchest defender.

Beatty was among the House Democrats who reacted quickly to reports that Trump pressured the Ukrainian president to investigate 2020 presidential candidate Joe Biden and his son. Beatty tweeted her support for impeachment, calling Trump’s pressure on Ukraine his most serious offense to date.

“We are a nation of laws but right now we have a person in the Oval Office who believes he is above the law and that government serves his political whims," Beatty wrote.

Shawn Shoaib runs a busy little convenience store in Beatty’s district on Broad Street in the Hilltop.

“We were on the side of Democrats,” Shoaib said about the 2016 election. “So the thing is, gradually time passes I realize that [Trump is] doing things right for his country.”

Shoaib is Pakistani American, and he’s lived in the country for six years. I asked him about the specific allegations that President Trump withheld aid to gain political advantage.

“Of course, of course, if it is, we’ll look into it, what’s going on and we’ll go from there,” Shoaib said.

When Shoaib popped inside to help customers, one of his regulars Abigail Zavacki said his comments hurt her heart. She welcomes impeachment, but doubts removing the president from office would change much.

“It’s not like there’s not a system in place to take over and keep pushing that agenda if someone gets impeached,” Zavacki said. “So I mean, his vice president is still someone who ran on his bill, his ticket, with his morals and values. It’s not going to make things much better; it’s just going to change them to a different face.”

Across the street, Lee Alderson runs a small barber shop. He says he lost faith in the political system after the 2016 election, complaining about Hillary Clinton winning the popular vote only to lose in the Electoral College.

But like Shoaib, he isn’t eager for impeachment, just for different reasons.

“It is what it is, I mean, if they impeach him, they impeach him,” Alderson said. “To me I don’t see any reason to even do it right now. He’s so far gone in his term by the time that they get done with all this stuff it’ll be time for the reelections.”

Jordan’s district sits about 10 miles northwest. Since Democrats decided to move forward with an impeachment inquiry earlier this week, Jordan has offered a steady stream of support for the president and criticism of his opponents.

He tweeted that House Speaker Nancy Pelosi backing the impeachment inquiry means she’s “finally succumbed to unrelenting pressure from the Socialist wing of the Democrat Party.”

In Marysville, one couple who didn’t want to speak on tape quickly voiced their support for Jordan.

Bill Davis took a similar position.

“Yeah, he’s had a lot to say lately and I appreciate that,” Davis said of Jordan. “Absolute waste of our time and money and the whole deal is just ridiculous.”

Adam Monroe.
Credit Nick Evans
Adam Monroe.

But Adam Monroe feels differently about the president.

“I feel like he’s in there for the wrong reasons,” Monroe said. “I feel it’s a power trip. More than trying to help, he’s trying to help himself.”

Monroe says he and his coworkers regularly find themselves talking, often unfavorably, about the latest Trump story, and it wears on him.

“I try not to follow it just so I don’t get so emotionally attached to it, I guess.” Monroe said. “But I mean I think it’s all a crock of—I’m not going to say that. But I don’t think I need to say it. I think you know where I’m going with it.”

When asked about the specific allegations related to Ukraine, Monroe said he’s driven more by the steady accumulation of problems coming from the White House.

Nick Evans was a reporter at WOSU's 89.7 NPR News. He spent four years in Tallahassee, Florida covering state government before joining the team at WOSU.