The ultra-conservative Judicial Crisis Network (JCN) is spending big money to pressure red-state Democrats Joe Manchin (D-W.Va.) and Heidi Heitkamp (D-N.D.) to confirm Brett Kavanaugh. In a new ad buy the group is making one final push on behalf of Donald Trump’s beleaguered Supreme Court nominee.
JCN announced on Monday they will spend $400,000 this week on pushing Manchin and Heitkamp to support Kavanaugh. They are the only undecided Democrats, and both are up for reelection next month. By all accounts Kavanaugh remains short of the 50 votes needed to confirm him. Three Republicans — Jeff Flake of Arizona, Lisa Murkowski of Alaska, and Susan Collins of Maine — have not said for sure they would support Kavanaugh when it comes to a vote on the floor of the Senate.
JCN’s new ads use footage of Kavanaugh calling the confirmation process “search and destroy” at his confirmation hearing. A narrator says voters will “never forget” how Heitkamp and Manchin vote and accuses liberals of trying to “ruin a good man with smears.”
Also on Monday the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) announced its own $1 million ad buy to put pressure on Manchin and several other senators to oppose Kavanaugh on Monday.
JCN has been the biggest spender in Kavanaugh battle, having spent about $12 million thus far to confirm him.
“He’s telling them, ‘Keep your powder dry.’ That means you don’t have to decide this — wait and see how it plays out. There’s some speculation that Kavanaugh may not last,” a Democratic staff member said. “They always vow to stay right until they don’t.”
One Democratic senator said there’s widespread disbelief in the Democratic caucus in the Senate that Kavanaugh is still holding on.
“I just had a conversation with a colleague who said they couldn’t believe he hasn’t dropped out yet,” the unnamed lawmaker said Monday evening. “There was a time he could have done it gracefully and could have protected the Supreme Court.”
The senator said that whether or not Kavanaugh keeps on fighting “depends on what else the FBI finds and where the votes are.” He then added that “public opinion is trending against him after his testimony Thursday.”
Several red-state and previously undecided Democratic senators who are up for re-election this year have come out against Kavanaugh. They include senators Jon Tester of Montana, Joe Donnely of Indiana, and Claire McCaskill of Missouri.
Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell of Kentucky has said he will force vulnerable Democrats to vote on the nominee on the floor of the Senate.
“The time for endless delay and obstruction has come to a close,” he said on the floor Monday. “We’ll be voting this week.”
McConnell may be bluffing, and Schumer may be right. A lot can happen this week with the FBI probe, and more allegations of sexual assault and perjury against Kavanaugh keep coming out.
If the FBI investigation actually clears Kavanaugh’s name, then Flake, Murkowski and Collins will probably vote for him, along with all other Republicans. This would give the nominee the 51 votes he needs for confirmation, and the votes of Heitkamp, Manchin and other Democratic senators won’t even matter.
On the other hand, if two Republican senators vote against Kavanaugh, then it is almost certain that all Democratic senators — including Heitkamp and Manchin — will also vote against Trump’s nominee. They are just being smart and waiting to see what happens before making a commitment that could hurt their re-election chances.
It seems that the entire Senate vote is dependent upon what the FBI finds out. And this is added political pressure that the nation’s premier law enforcement agency simply doesn’t want or need right now.
I am a lifelong Democrat with a passion for social justice and progressive issues. I have degrees in writing, economics and law from the University of Iowa.