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Facing mounting pressure, key bipartisan senators remain unannounced on Kavanaugh

Pressure is mounting for a small group of undecided senators from each party who have about two weeks to dec...

Posted: Sep 13, 2018 8:04 AM
Updated: Sep 13, 2018 8:05 AM

Pressure is mounting for a small group of undecided senators from each party who have about two weeks to decide how they will vote on Supreme Court nominee Judge Brett Kavanaugh.

Several Democrats running for re-election in Republican stronghold states won by President Donald Trump are facing tough political choices ahead of the midterm election: Vote for Kavanaugh and upset their base Democratic voters, possibly dampening turnout in November, or vote against the judge and risk angering Trump supporters in their states who might otherwise vote for them.

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For now, they aren't saying how they will vote, but it's notable that they haven't come out against him, as so many of their Democratic colleagues have done.

Asked Wednesday if she had seen any red flags about Kavanaugh, North Dakota Democratic Sen. Heidi Heitkamp said, "not that I've seen so far."

But she said she is still "reviewing his record."

Sen. Joe Donnelly, an Indiana Democrat up for re-election this year, also declined to say how he will vote.

"I'm still reviewing everything at this point," he said.

Another undecided Democrat, Sen. Jon Tester of Montana, said he wants to review the confirmation hearings transcript and meet in-person with Kavanaugh soon to "set the record straight" on some issues. Tester said he has concerns about Kavanaugh's record on abortion rights, security and campaign finance.

In the wake of Kavanaugh's contentious confirmation hearings last week, outside liberal groups including those who fear Kavanaugh's confirmation could lead to an overturning of Roe vs. Wade are ratcheting up pressure on Republican Sens. Lisa Murkowski of Alaska and Susan Collins of Maine -- both seen as potential swing votes in the nomination because they are pro-abortion rights -- with some attacks on Collins growing increasingly hostile, according to her staff.

In recent days, Collins's office has reported an increase in vulgar messages being directed at the senator and her staff. Several GOP senators blasted the liberal groups for targeting Collins.

"The increasingly aggressive behavior being employed by liberal activists and opponents of Judge Kavanaugh is extremely concerning. Targeting members in such a personal and hostile way has no place in public discourse, and Senator Schumer's continued silence sends a dangerous message to the Senate and country," Senate Majority Whip John Cornyn, the No. 2 Republican in the chamber, said in a statement. "It's time for Senator Schumer to make clear where he stands and disavow the mob rule of the radical Left."

Sen. Orrin Hatch of Utah, a member of the Judiciary Committee and the most senior Republican in the Senate, predicted the campaign against Collins wouldn't work and she would vote for the judge.

"She knows he's a class act and a reasonable guy," said Hatch who also said he expects Kavanaugh to be confirmed when a vote is expected during the last week of September.

A crowdfunding campaign has also threatened to fund a challenger against Collins if she votes for Kavanaugh.

"Bribery will not work on Senator Collins," said Annie Clark, a spokeswoman for Collins. "Extortion will not work on Senator Collins. And anybody who thinks these tactics would work on Senator Collins obviously doesn't know her. This crowdedfunded money to pressure her is based on a quid pro quo -- you vote the way we want and we will keep more than a million dollars away from your opponent -- vote against us and we give her the money. It is basically a bribe. Senator Collins will make up her mind based on the merits of the nomination. Threats or other attempts to bully her will not play a factor in her decision making whatsoever."

While Murkowski and Collins as well as three red state Democrats -- Heitkamp, Donnelly and Sen. Joe Manchin of West Virginia -- voted to advance Neil Gorsuch, Trump's first Supreme Court pick, the pressure from the liberal base has only intensified with Kavanaugh's nomination.

If all Republicans vote for Kavanaugh, they can clear him without Democrat support.

It's not clear when the closely-watched bipartisan groups of senators will announce their decisions. It's possible the Democrats, if any are going to support Kavanaugh, would hold off until after the Republicans announce they are backing him, so to avoid being tagged as the deciding vote in his favor and potentially angering liberal voters.

Mississippi Coronavirus Cases

Data is updated nightly.

Cases: 265146

Reported Deaths: 5777
CountyCasesDeaths
DeSoto17741191
Hinds16891332
Harrison14279204
Rankin11239220
Jackson10917190
Lee9071145
Madison8599169
Jones6731118
Forrest6208124
Lauderdale6121192
Lowndes5544120
Lafayette520598
Lamar505865
Washington4933125
Bolivar4126109
Oktibbeha408382
Panola386981
Pontotoc377460
Monroe3686110
Warren3685103
Marshall357170
Union356864
Pearl River3495106
Neshoba3490154
Leflore3118109
Lincoln306788
Hancock294262
Sunflower291975
Tate280662
Alcorn273154
Pike270181
Itawamba269363
Scott260048
Yazoo256756
Prentiss253754
Coahoma249755
Copiah249749
Tippah249750
Simpson242872
Leake238167
Marion224273
Grenada223972
Covington221073
Adams215171
Wayne213734
Winston207671
George204739
Newton199946
Attala197064
Tishomingo194961
Chickasaw189344
Jasper181138
Holmes172068
Clay166837
Tallahatchie157235
Stone152525
Clarke148162
Calhoun141322
Smith130026
Yalobusha123335
Walthall114537
Greene113729
Noxubee113026
Montgomery112036
Carroll106822
Lawrence106817
Perry105131
Amite102126
Webster96824
Tunica89021
Claiborne88825
Jefferson Davis88430
Benton85823
Humphreys84724
Kemper80920
Quitman7139
Franklin70617
Choctaw63713
Wilkinson59825
Jefferson56821
Sharkey45217
Issaquena1606
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Alabama Coronavirus Cases

Cases: 441170

Reported Deaths: 6660
CountyCasesDeaths
Jefferson646811007
Mobile31620572
Madison28310217
Tuscaloosa21525275
Montgomery19954332
Shelby19335132
Baldwin17256189
Lee13205107
Morgan12639142
Etowah12107181
Calhoun11521206
Marshall10471123
Houston9009164
Limestone834981
Cullman8274124
Elmore8214110
DeKalb7894107
Lauderdale7871107
St. Clair7854130
Talladega6481112
Walker6036183
Jackson601545
Colbert549994
Blount547386
Autauga537662
Coffee462464
Dale410785
Franklin374950
Russell357515
Chilton345473
Covington339680
Escambia335444
Tallapoosa3149109
Dallas313296
Chambers304270
Clarke300236
Pike262531
Lawrence254155
Marion253761
Winston233642
Bibb222348
Geneva211547
Marengo209331
Pickens199631
Hale185244
Barbour182738
Fayette178629
Butler174460
Cherokee165731
Henry159925
Monroe152421
Randolph146436
Washington142327
Clay130546
Crenshaw124045
Macon122337
Cleburne121825
Lamar120222
Lowndes115536
Wilcox107922
Bullock103528
Perry100018
Conecuh97922
Sumter90527
Greene77923
Coosa63618
Choctaw51924
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