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 SchumerDemocrats should end their hypocrisy when it comes to Kavanaugh and the judiciary Celebrities back both Cuomo and Nixon as New Yorkers head to primary vote Dems launch million digital ad buy in top Senate races 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 MurkowskiMurkowski echoes calls for Kavanaugh, accuser to testify Kavanaugh, accuser to testify publicly on Monday Kavanaugh furor intensifies as calls for new testimony grow MORE nor Susan CollinsSusan Margaret CollinsMurkowski echoes calls for Kavanaugh, accuser to testify Kavanaugh, accuser to testify publicly on Monday White House says Kavanaugh ready to testify over 'false allegation' 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 HeitkampKavanaugh becomes September surprise for midterm candidates Kavanaugh, accuser to testify publicly on Monday Kavanaugh furor intensifies as calls for new testimony grow MORE and Indiana’s Joe DonnellyJoseph (Joe) Simon DonnellyKavanaugh becomes September surprise for midterm candidates Kavanaugh, accuser to testify publicly on Monday Kavanaugh furor intensifies as calls for new testimony grow 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) ManchinKavanaugh becomes September surprise for midterm candidates Kavanaugh, accuser to testify publicly on Monday Kavanaugh furor intensifies as calls for new testimony grow 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 TrumpOver 100 lawmakers consistently voted against chemical safeguards: study CNN's Anderson Cooper unloads on Trump Jr. for spreading 'idiotic' conspiracy theories about him Cohn: Jamie Dimon would be 'phenomenal' president 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 McConnellMurkowski echoes calls for Kavanaugh, accuser to testify McConnell rips Democrats for handling of Kavanaugh nomination Kavanaugh furor intensifies as calls for new testimony grow 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 HarrisSenate Dems sue Archives to try to force release of Kavanaugh documents The Hill's Morning Report — Sponsored by United Against Nuclear Iran — Kavanaugh confirmation in sudden turmoil Judd Gregg: The collapse of the Senate 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 BookerSenate Dems sue Archives to try to force release of Kavanaugh documents Judd Gregg: The collapse of the Senate Dems engage in last-ditch effort to block Kavanaugh MORE, Bernie SandersBernard (Bernie) SandersProtecting democracy requires action from all of us Kavanaugh hires attorney amid sexual assault allegations: report Amazon probes allegations of employees leaking data for bribes: report MORE, Elizabeth WarrenElizabeth Ann WarrenAnother recession could hit US in 2019, says credit union association chief Warren says vote should be delayed, asks what Kavanaugh is hiding Kavanaugh hires attorney amid sexual assault allegations: report MORE, and Kirsten GillibrandKirsten Elizabeth GillibrandEx-GOP donor urges support for Dems in midterms: 'Democracy is at stake' Overnight Energy: Warren bill would force companies to disclose climate impacts | Green group backs Gillum in Florida gov race | Feds to open refuge near former nuke site Former Virginia Gov. McAuliffe to visit Iowa, fueling 2020 speculation 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 SchumerDemocrats should end their hypocrisy when it comes to Kavanaugh and the judiciary Celebrities back both Cuomo and Nixon as New Yorkers head to primary vote Dems launch million digital ad buy in top Senate races 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.