WASHINGTON – Moderate Republican Rep. Constance Morella probably expected pressure over her vote on the potential impeachment of President Clinton.
It may come as a bit of a surprise to her that her own party might be leading the squeeze.
“The central committee is discussing sending her a message to vote for impeachment,” said George Sauer, a member of the Montgomery County Republican Central Committee. “But I suspect she would favor censure over impeachment if that is an option.”
Sauer predicted that both Democrats and Republicans will attempt to pressure Morella, R-Bethesda. “Just about everybody would be putting pressure on her,” he said.
A spokeswoman said Thursday that Morella will not discuss her vote until after it is cast next week. But Morella has not been afraid to vote against her party in the past.
The pro-choice congresswoman voted against seven items in the Republican Contract with America, three more items than any other Republican in the House. In the 104th Congress, she voted with the Democrats to increase the minimum wage and against an override of the partial-birth abortion veto.
Bob Clark, the former chairman of the Montgomery County Republican Party, said he “imagined the pressure is to vote against impeachment in [Montgomery] county,” because of the county’s liberal leaning.
“More than 70 percent of the county voted for Clinton,” he said. “My guess is that she would vote for censure if that is an option, rather than impeachment.”
Nathan Landow, the former chairman of the Maryland Democratic Party, agreed that Morella would probably vote for censure if it is an option. If it is not, he said “history has proven that she would probably vote against impeachment.”
Kevin Igoe, a Republican political consultant in Maryland, said Morella will likely vote her conscience, but he was not willing to wager either way on how the moderate Republican might vote.
But one political consultant said that putting pressure on Morella is a futile effort for either Democrats or Republicans.
“It will not help to lean on Morella,” said Donald Devine. “She is going to vote her conscience anyway.”
Regardless of how she votes, Sauer said that Morella will vote her conscience and predicts it will be a “close call” for her.
“I don’t even think she knows how she will vote,” he said.