‘Ka­vanaugh ef­fect’ cred­ited for Repub­li­can Se­nate vic­to­ries

The Washington Times Weekly - - Politics - BY DAVE BOYER

Pres­i­dent Trump and Se­nate Ma­jor­ity Leader Mitch McCon­nell cred­ited Democrats’ mis­han­dling of the con­fir­ma­tion hear­ing for Supreme Court Jus­tice Brett M. Ka­vanaugh as the turn­ing point that helped Repub­li­cans in­crease their Se­nate ma­jor­ity.

“Tremen­dous en­ergy was given to the Repub­li­can Party by the way they treated then-Judge Ka­vanaugh, now-Jus­tice Ka­vanaugh,” Mr. Trump said at a White House press con­fer­ence. “The vot­ers have also clearly re­buked the Se­nate Democrats for their han­dling of the Ka­vanaugh hear­ings — that was a fac­tor.”

While the pres­i­dent’s party al­most al­ways loses seats in the midterm elec­tions, Se­nate Repub­li­cans bucked that trend by pick­ing up at least two seats. Four Se­nate Democrats in “red” states who voted against Ka­vanaugh’s nom­i­na­tion lost their re-elec­tion bids: Sens. Claire McCaskill of Mis­souri, Joe Don­nelly of In­di­ana, Heidi Heitkamp of North Dakota and Bill Nel­son of Florida. Mr. Nel­son has asked for a re­count.

The only Demo­crat who voted to con­firm Jus­tice Ka­vanaugh, Sen. Joe Manchin III of West Vir­ginia, won his re-elec­tion. Sen. Jon Tester of Mon­tana was the only Demo­crat up for re-elec­tion in a state won by Mr. Trump in 2016 who voted against Jus­tice Ka­vanaugh and was re-elected.

Top Repub­li­cans say the GOP base be­came more en­er­gized to vote when Democrats raised al­le­ga­tions of sex­ual as­sault against Jus­tice Ka­vanaugh dat­ing back to the 1980s.

Mr. McCon­nell, Ken­tucky Repub­li­can, called the con­fir­ma­tion hear­ings in Septem­ber “ex­tremely help­ful” to the GOP. Rather than with­draw the nom­i­na­tion, the White House and Jus­tice Ka­vanaugh pushed back ag­gres­sively against the ac­cu­sa­tions.

“Core vot­ers in the states that were crit­i­cal to us were highly of­fended by the ques­tion­ing of the pre­sump­tion of in­no­cence and the tac­tics. And I think it was like an adren­a­line shot. We were wor­ried about lack of in­ten­sity on our side, and I think the Ka­vanaugh fight cer­tainly pro­vided that.”

Penny Nance, CEO and pres­i­dent of Con­cerned Women for Amer­ica, said the “cir­cus that was Jus­tice Ka­vanaugh’s con­fir­ma­tion was a reck­on­ing for U.S. sen­a­tors.”

“The con­ser­va­tive women be­hind CWA’s Women for Ka­vanaugh cam­paign were largely re­spon­si­ble for the demise of Sens. Heidi Heitkamp, Claire McCaskill and Joe Don­nelly. Mean­while Sen. Manchin, the only Demo­crat to vote in fa­vor of Ka­vanaugh’s con­fir­ma­tion, held his seat.”

She said vot­ers “re­jected the mob men­tal­ity that tried to de­stroy an hon­or­able man in the name of po­lit­i­cal power. This is good news for our po­lit­i­cal dis­course go­ing for­ward.”

Se­nate Mi­nor­ity Leader Charles E. Schumer of New York dis­missed the Repub­li­cans’ assess­ment of the hear­ing’s im­pact on the elec­tions.

“What they did is show the na­tion that Repub­li­cans and Pres­i­dent Trump want to fill the bench with judges, jus­tices who are anti-women’s health care, who would side with rad­i­cals on no gun con­trol, who would hurt the rights of women, mi­nori­ties, vot­ing rights, LGBT rights. I think that did as much to gal­va­nize peo­ple to vote Demo­cratic as it did to vote Repub­li­can, and in the long run it is go­ing to hurt them much more.”

In the House, Repub­li­cans lost their ma­jor­ity, and Democrats picked up at least 26 seats.

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