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Vulnerable Dems Weigh Political Cost Of Kavanaugh Vote

The Senate fight to confirm Brett Kavanaugh to the Supreme Court could impact the re-election races of some vulnerable Democrats.
Posted at 4:34 PM, Oct 06, 2018

The fight to confirm Brett Kavanaugh to the Supreme Court is over. But the political fallout just begun for some Democratic Senators facing tight midterm elections.

Ten Senate Democrats are up for reelection this year in states President Trump won in 2016. But only two of those Senators — Heidi Heitkamp of North Dakota and Joe Manchin of West Virginia — went down to the wire on their decisions about Kavanaugh. And in the end, they came to opposite conclusions: Heitkamp voted against Kavanaugh, while Manchin voted for him.

Heitkamp framed her vote against Kavanaugh in moral terms. She said in her vote announcement, "Our actions right now are a poignant signal to young girls and women across our country. I will continue to stand up for them."

That stance paints a sharp contrast with Heitkamp's GOP challenger, Rep. Kevin Cramer, who's been dismissive of the sexual assault allegations against Kavanaugh. According to a RealClearPolitics polling average, Heitkamp's down almost nine points to Cramer.

Manchin's decision on Kavanaugh had more political expedience behind it: he announced his support for Kavanaugh only after Sen. Susan Collins had already given Kavanaugh the final vote he needed to pass the Senate.

The vote could help bolster Manchin's reputation as independent from Democratic leadership — a key survival trait in deep-red West Virginia. But so far his vote hasn't quieted Republican attacks on him: Manchin's opponent, West Virginia Attorney General Patrick Morrisey, slammed his last-minute decision as "gutless" in a tweet Friday.

Kavanaugh's confirmation process has been particularly divisive for the Senate: Trump's first Supreme Court pick, Justice Neil Gorsuch, was confirmed with support from both Manchin and Heitkamp, as well as Indiana Sen. Joe Donnelly.

This video includes reporting from Newsy affiliate CNN.