Red state Democrats will vote on Supreme Court pick to stay alive

Red state Democrats will vote on Supreme Court pick to stay alive
© Greg Nash

The morning after Election Day this November, Brett Kavanaugh will have probably been on the Supreme Court for one month. It is also possible, but far from certain, that Charles SchumerCharles (Chuck) Ellis SchumerRed-state Dem tells Schumer to 'kiss my you know what' on Supreme Court vote Dem infighting erupts over Supreme Court pick Trump's latest win: More Americans are saying, 'I quit!' MORE will be poised to be the next Senate majority leader. According to the latest polls, his odds are ebbing. Regardless, the career arcs of Kavanaugh and Schumer are now intertwined. If neither Lisa MurkowskiLisa Ann MurkowskiDem infighting erupts over Supreme Court pick McConnell: Senate to confirm Kavanaugh by Oct. 1 Overnight Energy: House to vote on anti-carbon tax measure | Dem says EPA obstructed 'politically charged' FOIA requests | GOP looks to overhaul endangered species law MORE nor Susan CollinsSusan Margaret CollinsDem infighting erupts over Supreme Court pick McConnell: Senate to confirm Kavanaugh by Oct. 1 Overnight Health Care: Watchdog finds Tom Price improperly used funds on flights | Ex-Novartis CEO sent drug pricing proposal to Cohen | HHS staffers depart after controversial social media posts MORE break ranks with the president, Kavanaugh’s confirmation ranks as a solid bet.

By the same measure, with a passel of incumbent Democratic senators from red states up for reelection, and North Dakota’s Heidi HeitkampMary (Heidi) Kathryn HeitkampRed-state Dem tells Schumer to 'kiss my you know what' on Supreme Court vote Dem infighting erupts over Supreme Court pick Beto O'Rourke is dominating Ted Cruz in enthusiasm and fundraising — but he's still headed for defeat MORE and Indiana’s Joe DonnellyJoseph (Joe) Simon DonnellyRed-state Dem tells Schumer to 'kiss my you know what' on Supreme Court vote Overnight Health Care: Official defends suspending insurer payments | What Kavanaugh's nomination means for ObamaCare | Panel approves bill to halt employer mandate Dems in terrible bind on Kavanaugh nomination MORE in real trouble, the prospect of a unified Democratic Caucus against Kavanaugh looks dim. To put things into perspective, Donnelly, Heitkamp, and West Virginia’s Joe ManchinJoseph (Joe) ManchinRed-state Dem tells Schumer to 'kiss my you know what' on Supreme Court vote Dem infighting erupts over Supreme Court pick Beto O'Rourke is dominating Ted Cruz in enthusiasm and fundraising — but he's still headed for defeat MORE each voted to confirm Neil Gorsuch.

Still, these nominally undecided senators are doing their best to keep their options open, and refused to be used as presidential props. Donnelly, Heitkamp, Manchin, Collins, Murkowski, and Alabama’s Doug Jones all declined invitations to attend the White House for the Kavanaugh announcement. Apparently, not everyone hankers to be on the set of Celebrity Apprentice: Potomac Edition.

Already, Manchin has publicly indicated that his take on Kavanaugh may hinge on his stance on ObamaCare. In a Monday night statement, Manchin reminded Kavanaugh of the expectations of his state’s rural and working class base.  As the senator smartly framed things, the “Supreme Court will ultimately decide if nearly 800,000 West Virginians with preexisting conditions will lose their healthcare. This decision will directly impact almost 40 percent of my state, so I’m very interested in his position on protecting West Virginians with pre-existing conditions.” In other words, it can’t be about abortion and Roe v. Wade in a state that went for Donald TrumpDonald John TrumpReporters defend CNN's Acosta after White House says he 'disrespected' Trump with question Security costs of Trump visit to Scotland sparks outrage among Scottish citizens Ex-CIA officer: Prosecution of Russians indicted for DNC hack 'ain't ever going to happen' MORE by 40 points.

As for the other swing votes, pureed word salad was the order of the day. Indiana’s Donnelly senatorially intoned that he will discharge his duty to the Constitution and “carefully review and consider the record and qualifications of Judge Brett Kavanaugh.” In other words, Donnelly & Co. won’t be marching in lockstep with their fellow Democrats.

Already, the word has gone forth that the Kavanaugh nomination is the great battle of 2018, with Schumer warning that if Senate Democrats don’t put up a “brutal fight”, there will be “hell to pay”. Yet, it remains to be seen whether Schumer will attempt to extract maximum party loyalty -- if the price to paid is another two years of Mitch McConnellAddison (Mitch) Mitchell McConnellKavanaugh gets questionnaires for confirmation hearing Dem infighting erupts over Supreme Court pick Franken offers Dems a line of questioning for Kavanaugh's 'weirdly specific bit of bulls---' MORE as majority leader.

One thing is for sure, the Democrats’ 2020 hopefuls are going all-in to oppose Kavanaugh. California’s Kamala HarrisKamala Devi HarrisMcConnell: I won't be intimidated by protesters Booker seizes on Kavanaugh confirmation fight Seeking asylum does not make illegal entry into America legal MORE announced her intention to fight his nomination, and then took it one step further – she refused to even speak to the White House about the nomination, despite the fact that she sits on the Senate Judiciary Committee and was asked for her input.

Likewise, Cory BookerCory Anthony BookerThe Hill's Morning Report — Trump readies for Putin summit: 'He’s not my enemy’ Booker seizes on Kavanaugh confirmation fight Dem senator: Kavanaugh would 'turn back the clock' on women's health care MORE, Bernie SandersBernard (Bernie) SandersOcasio-Cortez to campaign with Bernie Sanders in Kansas Sanders: Trump should confront Putin over Mueller probe indictments Booker seizes on Kavanaugh confirmation fight MORE, Elizabeth WarrenElizabeth Ann WarrenSanders: Trump should confront Putin over Mueller probe indictments Midterms will show voters are tired of taking back seat to Wall Street McConnell: I won't be intimidated by protesters MORE, and Kirsten GillibrandKirsten Elizabeth GillibrandMidterms will show voters are tired of taking back seat to Wall Street McConnell: I won't be intimidated by protesters Dem senator: Kavanaugh would 'turn back the clock' on women's health care MORE, as expected, were right out of the blocks hammering Kavanaugh. Sanders got it right when he said that this fall’s debate will be about “the future of Roe v. Wade, campaign finance reform, voting rights, workers’ rights, health care, climate change, environmental protection and gun safety.” Republicans might phrase it differently, but Sanders told the truth. It is about the culture wars.

All of this, however, is to be expected. Where things got interesting is with Steve Bullock, Montana’s Democratic governor and another possible 2020 presidential candidate. Last night, Bullock was speaking in his deepest blue voice, and saying: “Our fundamental rights as Americans are at stake, from access to basic healthcare and a woman’s right to choose to voting rights, workers’ rights and marriage equality.” For the record, Bullock won reelection by five points, even amidst Trump’s 21 percent statewide blowout.

In the end, red state Democrats will likely be given the freedom to stay politically alive. Chuck SchumerCharles (Chuck) Ellis SchumerRed-state Dem tells Schumer to 'kiss my you know what' on Supreme Court vote Dem infighting erupts over Supreme Court pick Trump's latest win: More Americans are saying, 'I quit!' MORE wants to be majority leader, and ranking members yearn to morph into committee chairs. For the moment, don’t expect the vote on Kavanaugh to be different from the outcome on Gorsuch.

Lloyd Green was the opposition research counsel to the George H.W. Bush campaign in 1988 and later served in the U.S. Department of Justice. He is now the managing member of research and analytics firm Ospreylytics.