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Flake says he will vote to confirm Kavanaugh

GOP Sen. Jeff FlakeJeffrey (Jeff) Lane FlakeFlake: Republican Party ‘is a frog slowly boiling in water’ Tim Scott: Stop giving court picks with 'questionable track records on race' a Senate vote Flake stands firm on sending a ‘message to the White House’ on Mueller MORE (Ariz.) said on Friday that he is supporting Brett Kavanaugh’s Supreme Court nomination, giving Kavanaugh a significant boost as Republicans try to confirm him early next week.

“While some may argue that a different standard should apply regarding the Senate’s advice and consent responsibilities, I believe that the Constitution’s provisions of fairness and due process apply here as well. I will vote to confirm Judge Kavanaugh,” Flake said.

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Flake’s decision comes less than a day after an emotional, hours-long hearing where both Kavanaugh and Christine Blasey Ford, a woman accusing him of sexual assault, testified for hours before the Senate Judiciary Committee.

Flake called her testimony “compelling” but said he still had doubts after the hearing.

“I wish that I could express the confidence that some of my colleagues have conveyed about what either did or did not happen in the early 1980s, but I left the hearing yesterday with as much doubt as certainty,” he said.

It means Kavanaugh will get the support needed to be reported favorably by the panel, which is scheduled to hold a vote on the nomination on Friday morning.

Republicans hold a one-seat advantage on the committee. Flake was the only GOP vote in question in the wake of the Thursday hearing, after which he told reporters that was still trying to “chase down a few things.”

Flake’s announcement doesn’t guarantee that Kavanaugh will ultimately be confirmed. Republicans hold a narrow 51-49 margin in the Senate. Two other Republicans — moderate Sens. Lisa MurkowskiLisa Ann MurkowskiSenate advances Trump energy pick after Manchin flips The Senate must reject Bernard McNamee’s nomination for FERC Overnight Defense: Congress pauses to mourn George H.W. Bush | Haspel to brief senators on Khashoggi killing | Soldier is fourth to die from Afghan IED blast MORE (Alaska) and Susan CollinsSusan Margaret CollinsSenators want assurances from attorney general pick on fate of Mueller probe 5 themes to watch for in 2020 fight for House Judd Gregg: The last woman standing MORE (Maine) — remained undecided after the committee hearing.

"I am going to go home, have some dinner and have a chance to think about all that's gone on," Murkowski told reporters on Thursday night, asked how she was feeling about the hearing.

Republicans can lose one senator before they would need help from Democrats to confirm Kavanaugh.

No Democrat has yet to say they will support him, and several red-state Democrats considered potential "yes" votes are under a mountain of pressure after Ford's allegation of sexual assault, as well as two others, became public. Sen. Doug Jones (D-Ala.) became the latest Democrat to announce he would oppose Kavanaugh.

Red-state Democratic Sens. Joe DonnellyJoseph (Joe) Simon DonnellySchumer gets ready to go on the offensive Schumer walking tightrope with committee assignments 10 things we learned from the midterms MORE (Ind.), Heidi HeitkampMary (Heidi) Kathryn HeitkampSchumer walking tightrope with committee assignments Banking panel showcases 2020 Dems Trump to nominate former coal lobbyist Andrew Wheeler as next EPA administrator MORE (N.D.) and Joe ManchinJoseph (Joe) ManchinSchumer to Trump: Future infrastructure bill must combat climate change Overnight Energy: Senate confirms controversial energy pick | EPA plans rollback of Obama coal emissions rule | GOP donor gave Pruitt K for legal defense Senate confirms Trump’s controversial energy pick MORE (W.Va.) remain undecided.

Even if Flake had voted "no" and blocked Kavanaugh from winning a positive stamp of approval from the committee, GOP leadership had signaled they would use other procedural options to get Kavanaugh’s nomination to the Senate floor.

“I will be proud to vote to confirm Judge Kavanaugh when the full Senate votes on his nomination in the coming days,” Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnellAddison (Mitch) Mitchell McConnellKey Senate Republican: Criminal justice reform needs more GOP support GOP tensions running high on criminal justice bill Trump flubs speech location at criminal justice conference MORE (R-Ky.) said on Thursday night even as Republicans remained short of the votes needed to confirm Kavanaugh.