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Heitkamp to vote 'no' on Kavanaugh

Democratic Sen. Heidi HeitkampMary (Heidi) Kathryn HeitkampDemocrats slide in battle for Senate Overnight Health Care — Presented by Purdue Pharma —Senate debates highlight fight over pre-existing conditions | Support grows for Utah Medicaid expansion measure | Arkansas health official defends work requirements Election Countdown: Small-donor donations explode | Russian woman charged with midterm interference | Takeaways from North Dakota Senate debate | O'Rourke gives 'definitive no' to 2020 run | Dems hope Latino voters turn Arizona blue 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 TrumpFive takeaways from Gillum and DeSantis’s first debate GOP warns economy will tank if Dems win Gorbachev calls Trump's withdrawal from arms treaty 'a mistake' MORE's first nominee. Sen. Joe DonnellyJoseph (Joe) Simon DonnellyDemocrats slide in battle for Senate Conservatives bankrolled and dominated Kavanaugh confirmation media campaign Donnelly parodies 'Veep' in new campaign ad MORE (D-Ind.) has announced his opposition to Kavanaugh, while Sen. Joe ManchinJoseph (Joe) ManchinManchin wrestles with progressive backlash in West Virginia Democrats slide in battle for Senate Five takeaways from testy Heller-Rosen debate in Nevada 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 CramerDemocrats slide in battle for Senate Overnight Health Care — Presented by Purdue Pharma —Senate debates highlight fight over pre-existing conditions | Support grows for Utah Medicaid expansion measure | Arkansas health official defends work requirements Election Countdown: Small-donor donations explode | Russian woman charged with midterm interference | Takeaways from North Dakota Senate debate | O'Rourke gives 'definitive no' to 2020 run | Dems hope Latino voters turn Arizona blue 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 CollinsManchin wrestles with progressive backlash in West Virginia Conservatives bankrolled and dominated Kavanaugh confirmation media campaign The Hill's Morning Report — Presented by the Coalition for Affordable Prescription Drugs — Health care a top policy message in fall campaigns MORE (Maine) and Lisa MurkowskiLisa Ann MurkowskiPoll: Palin unpopular in Alaska following jab at Murkowski Conservatives bankrolled and dominated Kavanaugh confirmation media campaign Ex-Florida lawmaker leaves Republican Party MORE (Alaska) remain undeclared on their support or opposition to the nominee. Sen. Jeff FlakeJeffrey (Jeff) Lane FlakeTrump boosts McSally, bashes Sinema in Arizona Watch live: Trump speaks at Arizona rally Mnuchin to attend anti-terror meeting in Saudi Arabia following Khashoggi disappearance 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.