The Kavanaugh Senate confirmation fight is actually the first race of the midterms

Hold my proxy.
Hold my proxy.
Image: Reuters/Chris Wattie
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Brett Kavanaugh’s confirmation as a US Supreme Court justice should be a shoe-in, but lobbying groups are still spending millions trying to convince American voters to support or oppose him.

The Senate remains controlled by the Republicans, who hold a 51-49 margin as Jon Kyl fills John McCain’s vacant seat in Arizona, and all Kavanaugh needs is a simple majority. But a handful of senators—Republican and Democrats—have not committed to a “yes” or “no” vote.

They include Democrats up for re-election in states that Trump won: Heidi Heitkamp of North Dakota, Joe Donnelly of Indiana and Joe Manchin of West Virginia, all of whom voted for Trump’s first Supreme Court pick Neil Gorsuch. Also non-committal are Florida Democrat Bill Nelson and Missouri Democrat Claire McCaskill, who voted against Gorsuch, but face tough challenges this November in the midterm elections.

The list of Senators who have not committed also includes Republican women who voted against the Trump-backed  repeal of Obamacare, Maine’s Susan Collins and Alaska’s Lisa Murkowski, as well as Jeff Flake of Arizona, who has raised concerns about Trump’s abuse of the rule of law— yet has ultimately voted with Trump’s position over 80% of the time. Collins and Murkowski are not up for re-election until 2020, Flake is stepping down at the end of this term.

The uncertainty surrounding this handful of key votes means millions in advertising dollars are being spent on the confirmation, even though American citizens don’t get a direct vote on it. Groups supporting Kavanaugh have spent $4.7 million on advertising, nearly four times that of the groups opposing the nominee, according to the Brennan Center for Justice.

These ads include this from the National Rifle Association, which says, “Your right to self-defense depends on this vote.” The NRA is running the ad on national cable TV, and in Indiana, North Dakota, West Virginia, and Alaska.



Groups like the Planned Parenthood Action Fund and the Demand Justice Initiative, part of an activist group of “Christian abolitionists” that fights sex trafficking, are the top groups buying ads opposing Kavanaugh. This one in running in Alaska, which emphasizes state residents’ appreciation of privacy:


Call your senator, all of the ads conclude, and tell them how you want them to vote on Kavanaugh’s confirmation.