Democratic Attacks on Kavanaugh May Cost Heitkamp Her Senate Seat

With photojournalists documenting his arrival to the hearing room, Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh listens during his confirmation hearing on Capitol Hill on Thursday. MUST CREDIT: Washington Post photo by Melina Mara

Democrats have become so extreme in their efforts to block Judge Brett Kavanaugh’s apppintment that it could end up costing incumbent Democratic Senator Heidi Heitkamp a Senate seat.

Just look at the stakes Democrats have created for this confirmation vote, which is expected to happen some time in early October. Senator Gillibrand of New York has said that “women are going to die” if he is confirmed. Currently there is a furor over an anonymous letter, which few have seen, accusing Kavanaugh of doing something at a house party 30 years ago when he was 17 that, if true, might rise to the level of sexual assault or some other sort of criminal misconduct.

Except, Democrats took the potentially criminal accusations in this letter so seriously they’ve been sitting on it since July and only released it now on the cusp of the confirmation vote.

In Minnesota sitting congressman, and candidate for state Attorney General, Keith Ellison has been accused of assault on the record by a former girlfriend (and her son) who is not anonymous. We can have a debate about how credible her accusation is, but her claims have more substance than what we’ve seen against Kavanaugh so far.

Yet Democrats are standing beside Ellison, and they want Kavanaugh removed from consideration for the court.

Meanwhile, the supposedly “independent” Heidi Heitkamp is trying to get herself re-elected to the U.S. Senate with votes from a generally pro-Trump electorate.

This Kavanaugh mess represents a problem for her in a couple of ways.

First, there’s the fact that she’s eventually going to have to vote on his confirmation. Heitkamp’s political party has so thoroughly stoked the fires of hatred for Kavanaugh that the wink-and-a-nod understanding Heitkamp usually enjoys from the liberal base for her calculated and cynical election year feints to the right will probably be out the window. For many left-wing voters in the state, a Heitkamp vote for Kavanaugh might be enough to inspire them to stay home.

Heitkamp can’t afford to lose those votes.

On the flip side, if Heitkamp votes against Kavanaugh it would be her siding with her political party to kill the Supreme Court nomination of a President most North Dakotans voted for.

Heitkamp can’t afford to lose those votes either.

I’m not sure there is a good option for how to vote on this one.

The second problem is the circus around the Kavanaugh confirmation process has been created by the political party which will be in charge of the U.S. Senate should Democrats like Heitkamp win their elections. Republicans are going to point that out for North Dakota voters who are deeply suspicious of Heitkamp’s political party.

Do voters here want the second half of the term Trump was elected to obstructed by a Democrat-controlled Senate, and all the political stuns and recrimination which would go along with it?

Probably not.

I suspect for Democrats, nationally, keeping Kavanaugh off of the Supreme Court bench is more important than keeping Heitkamp in the Senate. Which makes perfect sense. Congressional majorities are fleeting. Supreme Court appointments are for life.

But it’s bad news for Heitkamp.

Rob Port is the editor of SayAnythingBlog.com, a columnist for the Forum News Service, and the host of the Rob (Re)Port on Fargo-based WDAY AM970 from noon-2pm weekdays.

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