Republicans candidates for the U.S. Senate seized on the nomination of Brett Kavanaugh to the U.S. Supreme Court to slam their vulnerable Democratic opponents. President Donald Trump on Monday announced the nomination of Judge Kavanaugh to replace Justice Anthony Kennedy, who will retire effective July 31.
With Republicans trailing on the generic ballot by similar margins as Mr. Trump trailed Hillary Clinton throughout the summer, Republicans are hoping the issue of the Supreme Court will fire up their base. The president carried voters who cited Supreme Court appointments as the most important factor by a 56% to 41% margin.
The Republican National Committee (RNC) is also launching an effort to once again turn Supreme Court appointments into a dominant issue in 10 key states ahead of the midterm elections. That effort includes an extensive field program, digital ads and op-eds.
“All these Democrats who are hugging President Trump and telling their voters, “We’ll support the president,” they are going to be put to the test,” RNC Chair Ronna McDaniel said, adding “if they will not support a mainstream, conservative jurist, they are going to show their voters that they are lying.”
The first phase is already underway, which includes not relying on the media to tell voters about Judge Kavanaugh and his qualifications. The RNC and candidates are speaking directly to voters in these states in an attempt to reenergize their base and win over the persuadable electorate.
Senator Joe Donnelly, D-Ind., is one of the most vulnerable Democrats to face reelection in November. President Trump defeated Hillary Clinton in The Hoosier State by roughly 20 points, 56.5% to 37.5%. It would not be unfair to attribute his election in 2016 to a flawed Republican candidate.
But this time he faces Mike Braun, a former businessman who defeated two sitting congressman to become the Republican nominee for U.S. Senate. Mr. Braun told People’s Pundit Daily (PPD) in a statement that Judge Kavanaugh would make “another outstanding justice,” in addition to Justice Neil Gorsuch, whom the president first nominated.
While he expects Senator Donnelly to eventually vote to confirm Judge Kavanaugh, as he did with Justice Gorsuch, he says it’s a ploy to save his political skin.
“His credentials are impeccable – he has already served with distinction as an Appellate Judge on the prestigious Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia – and he will interpret the Constitution as written rather than legislate from the bench,” Mr. Braun said. “I am sure Senator Donnelly will eventually say that he will vote for him, because it is an election year.”
“But I can immediately say without hesitation that I would support this nomination and I hope the Senate moves quickly to confirm the President’s choice.”
Recent polling puts Mr. Braun ahead of the incumbent in Vice President Mike Pence’s home state. But surveys also give Senator Jon Tester, D-Mont., the edge against Republican Matt Rosendale, though the PPD Election Projection Model views that lead as inflated.
“For 8 years, @JonTester stood side by side w/ Obama and voted for his judicial nominees 99% OF THE TIME ex: Sotomayor & Kagan,” Mr. Rosendale tweeted. “When Trump nominated Gorsuch, he voted AGAINST a fellow Westerner who is committed to following the Constitution & protecting our #2A … #mtsen #mtpol”
For 8 years, @JonTester stood side by side w/ Obama and voted for his judicial nominees 99% OF THE TIME ex: Sotomayor & Kagan. When Trump nominated Gorsuch, he voted AGAINST a fellow Westerner who is committed to following the Constitution & protecting our #2A … #mtsen #mtpol https://t.co/d0HOOopCdx
— Matt Rosendale (@MattForMontana) July 10, 2018
“Jon Tester took out a full-page ad when President Trump came to Montana saying, ‘I support President Trump on all these issues, I will work with him,'” Chairwoman McDaniel added. “So, Heitkamp, Donnelly, Manchin, Tester, Nelson, they’re all going to be put to the test and this is going to be a dividing line for them with their voters.”
President Trump visited the conservative state to support Mr. Rosendale during the first week of July, and he slammed Senator Tester. At a rally in Great Falls, he said voters “deserve a Senator who votes like he’s from Montana.”
“You don’t just deserve a Senator who talks like he’s from Montana. You deserve a Senator who votes like he’s from Montana.”
Even though Judge Kavanaugh is expected to get a vote before November, and Americans expecting him to be confirmed, the president is likely to get another appointment. Big Data Poll has repeatedly found that Republican voters are more enthusiastic about court appointments than Democrats.
That enthusiasm could give their candidates a boost at the ballot box.
Governor Rick Scott released an ad called “Toe the Line,” which highlights how Senator Bill Nelson, D-Fla., didn’t oppose any of the roughly 700 judicial nominees from a Democratic president.
The once-thought to be moderate incumbent has moved far to the left in a state that has inched to the right. Senator Nelson, who has never faced an opponent as strong as he will this cycle, is the only Democrat currently holding a statewide office in Florida.
Governor Scott raised a record $10.7 million in less than 3 months in his campaign, not including candidate contributions.
In Wisconsin, which isn’t portrayed by polls and election projection models as particularly competitive, candidate Leah Vukmir slammed Senator Tammy Baldwin, D-Wis., for committing to oppose President Trump’s nominee, without even meeting with him.
“Sen. Baldwin’s obstruction on Judge Kavanaugh’s appointment is proof that she’d rather stand with her liberal activist San Francisco donors than uphold the Constitution. When Wisconsin voters elected President Trump, they knew he’d choose judges who would uphold the Constitution. Sen. Baldwin’s ‘no’ vote will directly contradict the will of the people. Kavanaugh is an extremely well-qualified nominee who deserves our support.”
The race could prove to be a sleeper. Senator Baldwin only defeated Tommy Thompson in 2012 by about 5 points, 51.4% to 45.9%. Barack Obama won’t be on the ballot this time around and polls also indicated The Badger State wasn’t competitive in 2016, either.
However, President Trump scored a shocking upset over Mrs. Clinton in Wisconsin, becoming the first Republican presidential candidate to win the state since Ronald Reagan in 1984.
The second phase of the RNC effort will begin about two weeks before the confirmation hearings begin, and will focus on mobilizing voters pressure their senators to confirm Judge Kavanaugh. It is targeting Missouri, Montana, North Dakota, Indiana, Ohio, Florida, West Virginia, Wisconsin, Pennsylvania and Michigan.