Heitkamp to vote 'no' on Kavanaugh

Democratic Sen. Heidi HeitkampMary (Heidi) Kathryn HeitkampPence to push new NAFTA deal in visit to Iowa Al Franken says he 'absolutely' regrets resigning Trump nominees meet fiercest opposition from Warren, Sanders, Gillibrand MORE (N.D.) said on Thursday that she will oppose Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh.

Heitkamp's decision, which she first announced to North Dakota TV station WDAY, comes less than a day after the FBI wrapped up its investigation into the sexual assault allegations against Kavanaugh. 

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Heitkamp, who is running for reelection in a state won by Trump, said a public hearing where Kavanaugh and Christine Blasey Ford, his first accuser, testified raised questions about Kavanaugh's "current temperament, honesty, and impartiality" and has "furthered a national discussion about stopping sexual assault."

"Our actions right now are a poignant signal to young girls and women across our country. I will continue to stand up for them," Heitkamp said. 

Heitkamp pointed to her work as the attorney general for North Dakota implementing the Violence Against Women Act. She said that she also thought Ford "gave heartfelt, credible and persuasive testimony." 

"When I listened to Dr. Ford testify, I heard the voices of women I have known throughout my life who have similar stories of sexual assault and abuse. Countless North Dakotans and others close to me have since reached out and told me their stories of being raped or sexually assaulted – and expressed the same anguish and fear," she said.  

The decision marks a shift for Heitkamp, who was one of three Democrats to support Neil Gorsuch, President TrumpDonald John TrumpO'Rourke: Trump driving global, U.S. economy into recession Manchin: Trump has 'golden opportunity' on gun reforms Objections to Trump's new immigration rule wildly exaggerated MORE's first nominee. Sen. Joe DonnellyJoseph (Joe) Simon DonnellyLobbying world Trump nominees meet fiercest opposition from Warren, Sanders, Gillibrand GOP frets over nightmare scenario for Senate primaries MORE (D-Ind.) has announced his opposition to Kavanaugh, while Sen. Joe ManchinJoseph (Joe) ManchinSunday shows - Recession fears dominate Manchin: Trump has 'golden opportunity' on gun reforms Trump vows to 'always uphold the Second Amendment' amid ongoing talks on gun laws MORE (D-W.Va.) remains undecided.

Heitkamp, who is running for reelection in a state Trump handily won in 2016, has been tightlipped about her thinking on Kavanaugh, declining to speak with reporters on Wednesday or Thursday.

The decision comes as two recent polls have shown Heitkamp trailing in her reelection bid against Rep. Kevin CramerKevin John CramerEPA proposes rolling back states' authority over pipeline projects GOP senator held up Trump aide's confirmation to get info on border wall contracts Overnight Defense: Esper sworn in as Pentagon chief | Confirmed in 90-8 vote | Takes helm as Trump juggles foreign policy challenges | Senators meet with woman accusing defense nominee of sexual assault MORE (R-N.D.). A Fox News poll showed that 53 percent of likely voters in North Dakota back Cramer, while 41 percent support Heitkamp, who is considered among the most vulnerable Democrats up for reelection.

Cramer came under fire last month when he questioned whether the sexual assault allegations should “disqualify” Kavanaugh “even if it’s all true" because they happened decades go. 

Republicans likely don't need Heitkamp to ultimately get Kavanaugh confirmed. They have a 51-seat majority, meaning they can lose one GOP senator before they need help from Democrats.

GOP Sens. Susan CollinsSusan Margaret CollinsCook Political Report moves Susan Collins Senate race to 'toss up' The Hill's Morning Report — Trump and the new Israel-'squad' controversy Trump crosses new line with Omar, Tlaib, Israel move MORE (Maine) and Lisa MurkowskiLisa Ann MurkowskiThe Hill's Morning Report - Progressives, centrists clash in lively Democratic debate Senate braces for brawl over Trump's spy chief Congress kicks bipartisan energy innovation into higher gear MORE (Alaska) remain undeclared on their support or opposition to the nominee. Sen. Jeff FlakeJeffrey (Jeff) Lane FlakeArpaio considering running for former sheriff job after Trump pardon Overnight Energy: Warren edges past Sanders in poll of climate-focused voters | Carbon tax shows new signs of life | Greens fuming at Trump plans for development at Bears Ears monument Carbon tax shows new signs of life in Congress MORE (R-Ariz.) previously said he would support Kavanaugh and is expected to be a yes vote absent an eleventh hour bombshell stemming from the FBI report.

—Updated at 3:05 p.m.