How one key swing vote is positioning himself on Brett Kavanaugh
Posted July 16, 2018 11:48 a.m. EDT
(CNN) — Sen. Joe Manchin, a Democrat from West Virginia facing re-election this fall, is soliciting the help of his constituents to decide how he should vote on judge Brett Kavanaugh's nomination to the Supreme Court.
In the latest example of how a group of moderate Democrats are looking at the tough confirmation ahead, Manchin issued a statement Monday urging voters back home to send their thoughts to a special email address and to review Kavanaugh's qualifications for the job.
"I take my responsibility to advise and consent on a nominee to the Supreme Court very seriously. As I did when Merrick Garland and Neil Gorsuch were nominated, I am evaluating Judge Kavanaugh's record, legal qualifications, judicial philosophy and particularly, his views on healthcare. I encourage West Virginians to review his qualifications themselves and share their thoughts and concerns with me," Manchin said in the release.
Manchin is one of several Democratic senators facing re-election in states Trump won in 2016. Trump won West Virginia by more than 40 percentage points in the presidential election, a factor that has led Manchin to cultivate a closer than usual working relationship with a President of the opposite party and a factor that has made him a clear senator to watch in Kavanaugh's confirmation.
Manchin's openness to the nomination is being echoed by some other red state Democrats and symbolizes the difficult task Democratic leaders have ahead. While Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer, a Democrat from New York, has called on his caucus to remain united against the nomination, Manchin, North Dakota's Democratic Sen. Heidi Heitkamp and Indiana's Democratic Sen. Joe Donnelly all voted for Trump's last Supreme Court nominee, Gorsuch, and are among those senators who are being closely watched this time around.
Republicans have a 51-49 seat majority in the chamber and GOP leaders only need 50 votes to confirm Kavanaugh, unlike other legislative action in the chamber that requires a higher threshold of support.
In an interview with Politico last week, Manchin said he wouldn't be pressured by party leaders to vote a certain way.
"I'll be 71 years old in August, you're going to whip me? Kiss my you know what," Manchin said to Politico.
Democratic leaders have acknowledged they may have little leverage in convincing their moderate colleagues to stick with the party and oppose Kavanaugh despite calls from the base to do whatever leaders have to do to twist the arms of red state Democrats.
"These are men and women who will make a historic, important, legal, personal judgment," Senate Minority Whip Dick Durbin, a Democrat from Illinois said last week.
Asked if he was comfortable letting moderate Democrats make that judgment, Durbin responded, "of course, what choice do I have?"