In the blink of a Merrick Garland tear in the Rose Garden, the first Senate Republican has already realized he would prefer to avoid the Obama trap. Senator Mark Kirk (R-ILL) would very much like to be re-elected, you see.
Senator Kirk broke with Republican leadership by announcing that he will assess Judge Garland based on his record and qualifications:
Sen. Kirk breaks with the GOP: "I will assess Judge Merrick Garland based on his record and qualifications." pic.twitter.com/bCSlQRytrU
— Sahil Kapur (@sahilkapur) March 16, 2016
Kirk is facing a tough battle to hold on to his seat. Want to guess why? Kirk took President Obama’s Senate seat. Yes, Kirk is a Republican in a Democratic state.
This is why Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell should be ready to hand the gavel to Democratic Senator Chuck Shumer, via Bloomberg last August:
Republicans currently hold a 54-46 majority in the U.S. Senate, and they are the defending party in 24 of the 34 races, including seven in states Obama carried in the 2012 election. Kirk’s seat is one of the most competitive, according to nonpartisan political analysts.
Of course things are worse for Republican Senators now, with Donald Trump their front-runner and Mitch McConnell’s indefensible Obstruct Obama’s Supreme Court nominee no matter what strategy. After all, a majority of the country voted for President Obama, and they want him to pick the next Supreme Court nominee. There is no legitimate reason for Senate Republicans to refuse to do their jobs, and even less justification for their wild power grab.
Senator Kirk saying that he will assess Judge Garland on his qualifications is like saying yes, because Garland couldn’t be more qualified. Garland is a centrist whose first loyalty is to the law. Garland is the kind of person who should be charged with interpreting the law.
One down just minutes after President Obama’s announcement. The pressure on Senate Republicans continues to grow.