Red State Democrats Up For Re-election Under The Microscope On SCOTUS Vote

REUTERS/Kevin Lamarque

Kerry Picket Political Reporter
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WASHINGTON—Democrats up for re-election in states that Donald Trump won in 2016 know that eyes are on them over whether Trump’s Supreme Court pick Neil Gorsuch gets filibustered by their caucus.

Gorsuch, a judge on the 10th District court in Colorado visited Capitol Hill Wednesday to begin his rounds with meeting with members.

North Dakota Democratic Sen. Heidi Heitkamp is among five Democrats from a state where Trump won by a wide margin, but she pushed back on the idea that Republicans already have her vote for Gorsuch.

“I’m going to do what I think is right for my state. I don’t think my state gave their Senate vote to Trump,” Heitkamp told reporters Wednesday.

“Republicans operate under the assumption that they’ve got five Democratic votes in the bag,” Heitkamp said earlier in the day.

Republicans need 8 Democrats to support Gorsuch in order to confirm him without a changing the rules of the filibuster and Montana Democratic Sen. Jon Tester told Fox and Friends Thursday morning that his decision on Gorsuch depends on “how he presents himself.” Tester called Gorsuch a “pro” and that he thinks he will do “a fine job presenting himself.”

When Gorsuch is on the hill talking to members of the upper chamber Tester said he wants to hear from him on issues facing rural America and how he views the gravity of the position of Supreme Court Justice.

“This is a bigger decision than an election would dictate, frankly. I think everybody that I’ve visited with and I haven’t visited with a lot of people with what they’re going to do with this that serve with me, but the folks I serve with are willing to give him a shake and move forward—election aside. I think that’s important,” Tester said.

Democrats walking the fine line of pleasing constituents in their state and members of their caucus are still miffed at Republicans for not allowing Merrick Garland, President Obama’s pick for the open Supreme Court seat, to have a hearing. Republicans argue it was unprecedented for Obama to appoint Garland in the last year of his final term and Democrats previously demanded the same standard from Republican presidents.

West Virginia Democratic Sen. Joe Manchin, who has said previously he is not a “filibuster kind of guy” told reporters Wednesday, I just want to look at  some of his judicial findings and rulings.” He added, “I just think it was absolutely a travesty and embarrassment for the way Merrick Garland was treated.”

Missouri Democratic Sen. Claire McCaskill agreed saying firmly, ““I mean, how big a hypocrite am I going to be?” fumed McCaskill. “I am not going to model my behavior after their terribly bad, historically, precedent-setting behavior. I’m not doing that.”

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