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 SchumerHouse Judiciary Dems seek answers over Trump's national emergency declaration Mandatory E-Verify: The other border wall Trump says he 'didn't need to' declare emergency but wanted 'faster' action 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 MurkowskiThe Hill's 12:30 Report — Presented by Kidney Care Partners — Trump escalates border fight with emergency declaration On The Money: Trump declares emergency at border | Braces for legal fight | Move divides GOP | Trump signs border deal to avoid shutdown | Winners, losers from spending fight | US, China trade talks to resume next week The Hill's Morning Report — Presented by the American Academy of HIV Medicine — Trump, Congress prepare for new border wall fight MORE nor Susan CollinsSusan Margaret CollinsBusiness, conservative groups slam Trump’s national emergency declaration The Hill's 12:30 Report — Presented by Kidney Care Partners — Trump escalates border fight with emergency declaration On The Money: Trump declares emergency at border | Braces for legal fight | Move divides GOP | Trump signs border deal to avoid shutdown | Winners, losers from spending fight | US, China trade talks to resume next week MORE break ranks with the president, the Kavanaugh confirmation ranks as a solid bet.

With a passel of incumbent Democratic senators from red states up for reelection, and Heidi HeitkampMary (Heidi) Kathryn HeitkampOvernight Energy: Trump taps ex-oil lobbyist Bernhardt to lead Interior | Bernhardt slams Obama officials for agency's ethics issues | Head of major green group steps down Trump picks ex-oil lobbyist David Bernhardt for Interior secretary On The Money: Shutdown Day 27 | Trump fires back at Pelosi by canceling her foreign travel | Dems blast 'petty' move | Trump also cancels delegation to Davos | House votes to disapprove of Trump lifting Russia sanction MORE of North Dakota and Joe DonnellyJoseph (Joe) Simon DonnellyOvernight Energy: Trump taps ex-oil lobbyist Bernhardt to lead Interior | Bernhardt slams Obama officials for agency's ethics issues | Head of major green group steps down Trump picks ex-oil lobbyist David Bernhardt for Interior secretary EPA's Wheeler faces grilling over rule rollbacks MORE of Indiana in real trouble, the prospect of a unified Democratic caucus against Kavanaugh looks dim. To put things into perspective, Donnelly, Heitkamp, and Joe ManchinJoseph (Joe) ManchinSenate confirms Trump pick William Barr as new attorney general GOP wants to pit Ocasio-Cortez against Democrats in the Senate Senate poised to confirm Trump’s attorney general pick MORE each voted to confirm Neil Gorsuch.

ADVERTISEMENT

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 Doug Jones of Alabama 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 statement, Manchin reminded Kavanaugh of the expectations the rural and working class in his state. 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 preexisting conditions.” It cannot be about abortion in a state that went for Donald TrumpDonald John TrumpTrump nominates ambassador to Turkey Trump heads to Mar-a-Lago after signing bill to avert shutdown CNN, MSNBC to air ad turned down by Fox over Nazi imagery MORE by 40 points.

As for the other swing votes, pureed word salad was the order of the day. Donnelly intoned that he will discharge his duty to the Constitution and “carefully review and consider the record and qualifications” of Kavanaugh. Donnelly and company will not be marching in lockstep with their fellow Democrats. The word is that the Kavanaugh nomination is the great battle of 2018, with Schumer warning that if Senate Democrats do not put up a “brutal fight” then there will be “hell to pay.”

Yet, it remains to be seen whether Schumer will attempt to extract maximum party loyalty, if the price paid is another two years of Mitch McConnellAddison (Mitch) Mitchell McConnellGreen New Deal Resolution invites big picture governing ‘Contingency’ spending in 3B budget deal comes under fire Coulter defends Paul Ryan: This is 100 percent Trump's fault MORE as majority leader. One thing is for sure, and that is the 2020 Democratic hopefuls will go all in to oppose Kavanaugh. Kamala HarrisKamala Devi HarrisNewsom endorses Kamala Harris for president Constitutional conservatives need to oppose the national emergency Overnight Health Care — Sponsored by America's 340B Hospitals — Dems blast rulemaking on family planning program | Facebook may remove anti-vaccine content | Medicare proposes coverage for new cancer treatment MORE announced her intention to fight his nomination and refused to even speak to the White House about it, despite the fact that she sits on the Senate Judiciary Committee and was asked for her input.

Likewise, Cory BookerCory Anthony BookerNewsom endorses Kamala Harris for president Trump tweets video mocking Dems not cheering during State of the Union Former Virginia Gov McAuliffe writes book about confronting white nationalism MORE, Bernie SandersBernard (Bernie) SandersNewsom endorses Kamala Harris for president Business, conservative groups slam Trump’s national emergency declaration Poll: Sanders, Biden seen as most popular second choices in Dem primary MORE, Elizabeth WarrenElizabeth Ann WarrenNewsom endorses Kamala Harris for president Constitutional conservatives need to oppose the national emergency Poll: Sanders, Biden seen as most popular second choices in Dem primary MORE, and Kirsten GillibrandKirsten Elizabeth GillibrandNewsom endorses Kamala Harris for president Trump tweets video mocking Dems not cheering during State of the Union Omar: Next president should declare national emergency on climate change ‘on day 1’ MORE, as expected, were right out of the blocks hammering Kavanaugh. Sanders got it right when he said that the debate this fall will be about the “future of Roe v. Wade, campaign finance reform, voting rights, worker 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, the Democratic governor of Montana and another possible 2020 candidate. Last night, he said in his deepest blue voice, “Our fundamental rights as Americans are at stake, from access to basic healthcare and a woman’s right to choose to voting rights, worker rights and marriage equality.” For the record, Bullock won reelection by five points, even amidst the 21 percent statewide blowout Trump had in 2016.

In the end, red state Democrats will likely be given the freedom to stay politically alive. Schumer wants to be Senate majority leader, and ranking members yearn to morph into committee chairs. For the moment, expect the vote on Kavanaugh to be no different from the one 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.