Senate Dems in Trump states take measured stance on Kavanaugh

WASHINGTON — Nine Senate Democrats up for re-election this year in states that President Donald Trump won are taking a wait-and-see attitude about rejecting Brett Kavanaugh’s nomination to the Supreme Court despite calls by Democratic leaders to block him at any cost.

The focus has been on the three Democrats who voted for Neil Gorsuch in 2017: Sens. Joe Manchin (D-W.Va.), Heidi Heitkamp (D-N.D.) and Joe Donnelly (D-Ind.).

All three issued statements saying they’re going to vet Kavanaugh carefully.

And so did the Senate’s other two most endangered Democrats, Sens. Claire McCaskill (D-Mo.) and Bill Nelson (D-Fla.).

“I look forward to thoroughly examining Judge Kavanaugh’s record in the coming weeks as the Senate considers his nomination to replace Justice Kennedy,” McCaskill said.

Using similar language, Nelson said he was open to meeting with Kavanaugh to discuss issues including “women’s rights” and health care. “I’ll make my decision after that,” Nelson said.

Other Trump-state Democrats on the fence include Sens. Sherrod Brown (D-Ohio), Jon Tester (D-Mont.), Tammy Baldwin (D-Wis.) and Debbie Stabenow (D-Mich.).

Brown, a prominent liberal voice, said he had some “serious concerns” about Kavanaugh’s rulings — but insisted he hasn’t made a decision.

“I plan to review Judge Kavanaugh’s record thoroughly and ask him tough questions face-to-face before I make my decision,” Brown said.

Even Tester, who has been hit by Trump politically for labeling the president’s former Veterans Affairs pick Ronny Jackson the “candy man,” suggested to his colleagues that they give Kavanaugh a chance.

“Montanans have a lot on the line with this next Supreme Court Justice, so I urge my colleagues on both sides of the aisle to put politics aside and do what’s best for this nation,” Tester said.

Both Baldwin and Stabenow said they had concerns, but didn’t close the door yet.

The on-the-fence Democrats ignored calls by Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.) to present a united Democratic front against Kavanaugh’s nomination.

“The ramifications of this battle will last a generation or more. I’m going to fight this nomination with everything I’ve got,” Schumer said Tuesday on the steps of the Supreme Court, flanked by the 10 Democrats who sit on the Senate Judiciary Committee.

If Democrats want to block the conservative judge, they must vote en masse against him and pick up at least one Republican defector.

As of Tuesday, only one Senate Democrat up for re-election in a state that Trump won has announced that he’s a no vote: Sen. Bob Casey of Pennsylvania.

“I will oppose the nomination the president will make tonight because it represents a corrupt bargain with the far right, big corporations, and Washington special interests,” Casey said several hours before Trump unveiled Kavanaugh as his pick in a ceremony at the White House on Monday night.

Casey has more political cover as Pennsylvania only went for Trump by 1.2 points in 2016. Additionally, in March 2018, a previously red congressional district in the western part of the state flipped, electing Democrat Conor Lamb in a surprise upset that has energized Casey’s base.

Manchin has to run as a Democrat in a state that Trump won by 42 points.

And McCaskill’s Republican rival, Josh Hawley, is already anticipating that she’ll vote with Schumer.

In his first statewide television ad buy, which launched this week, Hawley blasted McCaskill by saying she “wants liberals in charge.”

“That’s how she votes,” he said. “That’s not Missouri’s way, and it won’t be my way.”

Source: Read Full Article