- Democratic Indiana Sen. Joe Donnelly is planning to meet with Supreme Court Justice nominee Brett Kavanaugh on Wednesday.
- Donnelly will be the second Democrat to meet with Kavanaugh, and is under pressure from both sides to make a decision.
- His decision to meet with the nominee came after a heavy campaign effort by his Republican opponent Rep. Mike Braun, who pressured him to take a meeting.
Democratic Sen. Joe Donnelly of Indiana made official plans to meet with President Donald Trump’s Supreme Court justice nominee Brett Kavanaugh on Wednesday, and his Republican opponent for senate, Indiana Rep. Mike Braun, is largely taking credit for the move.
Donnelly, a red-state Democrat, is preparing for a hard-fought re-election campaign in order to keep his seat in November, and he’s facing pressure from both sides over the Kavanaugh issue: from Republicans who are accusing Democrats of prolonging the confirmation, and from Democrats who are insisting their party stay united against Kavanaugh.
Only one Democrat, West Virginia Sen. Joe Manchin, met with Trump’s nominee so far, and Donnelly’s scheduled Wednesday meeting will make him one of the first three to do so, as North Dakota Sen. Heidi Heitkamp also has plans to meet Kavanaugh on Wednesday.
Donnelly told WTHR on July 24 that he agreed to meet with Kavanaugh and set the date after finally being able to get their schedules coordinated, but his Republican senate opponent Mike Braun has a different idea on why he took the meeting.
Braun issued a number of campaign ads and tweets in the weeks leading up to Donnelly’s announcement pressuring him to meet with Kavanaugh, and Braun’s campaign issued a statement taking credit for the meeting, claiming Donnelly caved.
Braun told The Daily Caller News Foundation on Tuesday that he was glad Donnelly plans to at least meet Kavanaugh, but feels he will eventually bow to Democrats when it comes to actually voting.
“Like most Hoosiers, I fully support the president’s pick, so I think it’s disappointing that he’s been dragging his feet, doing the dance,” Braun said. “I think he’s going to wait until his fellow New York liberal and mentor Chuck Schumer and the rest of the wing of his party give him the ok to support the nominee.”
Braun argued that Donnelly said initially he would take the same approach with Kavanaugh as he did with Supreme Court Justice Neil Gorsuch in 2017, but pointed out that Donnelly has waited much longer this time.
The Aug. 15 date is 37 days after Kavanaugh’s nomination, but Donnelly met with Gorsuch just 15 days after his nomination, according to Braun.
“I think that [the delay] is an effort to trick the folks back home into thinking he’s not a liberal Democrat. I’m not buying it,” Braun argued.
“He’ll delay it until Chuck Schumer says it’s ok,” he added. (RELATED: Sen. Chuck Schumer Goes After Potential SCOTUS Nominee Kavanaugh)
After the senate made a rules change in 2017, the so-called “nuclear option” to break the Democratic filibuster of Gorsuch, no Democratic votes are required to confirm Kavanaugh, which means Majority Leader Mitch McConnell will need to get his Republican cohort, at least a majority vote, to usher Kavanaugh in.
Even so, Braun says it’s too late for Donnelly to please the Republicans back home in Indiana.
“The only way his vote will mean anything and appeal to conservatives is if he was the deciding vote; if a Republican, for whatever reason, did not vote for Judge Kavanaugh, which I don’t think will be the case,” Braun told TheDCNF.
Several Democratic activists groups are expressing disdain for the couple of Democrats who agreed to meet with Kavanaugh and are calling on Schumer to pressure the red-state Democrats to oppose the nominee.
“If they aren’t applying pressure, then they are opening up space for this nomination to be viewed as acceptable,” Neil Sroka, a spokesman for Democracy for America, told The Hill.
California state Sen. Kevin De León, who is running against Democratic Sen. Dianne Feinstein, has also said she needs to do more to oppose the nomination.
“It’s time for Senator Feinstein and Senator Schumer to stop playing polite, country-club politics with a Supreme Court nominee who represents one of the greatest threats to a woman’s right to choose in our lifetime,” he said in a tweet.
Polls have Donnelly and Braun neck and neck in the Indiana senate race.
A July poll by Axios/Survey Monkey has Braun preferred by 49 percent of registered voters to Donnelly’s 47 percent.
A more recent poll has Donnelly ahead by 12.1 percent.
TheDCNF reached out to members of Donnelly’s office for comment on the upcoming meeting with Kavanaugh, but did not receive a response in time for publication.
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