Undecided Democrats – The 10 Who Could Make Or Break Gorsuch’s Nomination

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In five day’s time, on April 7, the Senate will vote on Judge Neil Gorsuch’s confirmation. The Republicans may have a 52 to 48 majority, but they need 60 votes to end the filibuster, which means persuading 6 Democrats to vote for Gorsuch.

Two Democrats, Sens. Joe Manchin of West Virginia and Heidi Heitkamp of North Dakota, have come out in support of Gorsuch, perhaps because they are both up for reelection next year in heavily Republican states that voted for Trump last year.

That leaves 10 undecided Democrat senators who hold the balance in their hands. So, who are they, and are there any indications of which way they will fall?

Senators Up For Re-Election In 2018 In States That Voted Trump

These are probably the two Senators most likely to be swayed to the other side of the aisle for this vote.

Sen. Joe Donnelly (Indiana) – Donnelly is a red-state Democrat targeted by Republicans. Indiana voted Trump in the election so Donnelly could either vote with the Republicans to keep those red voters happy and upset his liberal supporters or vote with the Democrats and risk losing his seat. He has given no indication on which way he is leaning and directs all questions to his office.

Sen. Jon Tester (Montana) – The Judicial Crisis Network, along with the Republican National Committee have targeted Tester with an ad campaign. Tester is in the same position as Donnelly, which is why the RNC hopes to sway him. When asked about his position on Friday, Tester said he was still reading about Gorsuch and was undecided about which way he would go.

Senators Up For Re-Election In 2018 In States That Voted Clinton

These four have re-elections to consider, but they represent blue states, so they do not experience the same pressures and conflicts that Tester and Donnelly do.

Sen. Bob Menendez (New Jersey) – Menendez hasn’t announced if he is running again in the 2018 election, but it is reported that he has started raising funds for his campaign. He told reporters this week:
 “When I come to a conclusion on how I’m voting on Gorsuch, I’ll decide on how I’m voting in the whole process.”
Sen. Ben Cardin (Maryland) – Unlike Menendez, Cardin has come out as planning to vote against Gorsuch if it comes to it, but does not know if he will maintain the filibuster. Neither has he announced if he is running for re-election.
Sen. Dianne Feinstein (California) – Having served since 1992, Feinstein is a high-ranking Democrat in the Senate and the top Democrat on the Senate Judiciary Committee. Feinstein is said to be disappointed with many of Gorsuch’s answers at the hearing, and the Senator has told reporters she will wait until next week to make her position on the filibuster known. Like Cardin, she has not announced whether or not she will be running for re-election next year.
Independent Sen. Angus King (Maine) – Senator King is an independent but is generally considered part of the Democratic caucus. King has been fairly quiet about Gorsuch of late but as his seat is considered safe for 2018 the pressure to vote strategically to ensure re-election is not there.

Senators Up For Re-Election In 2018

Without a looming re-election fight, these Senators are in the best position of the ten.

Sen. Mark Warner (Virginia) – Warner is the top Democrat on the Senate intelligence committee which has kept him somewhat busy of late. This week he told reporters he was concerned about Gorsuch’s ‘evasive answers’ in last week’s hearings.

Sen. Pat Leahy (Vermont) – A Judiciary Committee member Leahy has expressed concern about the Republicans using the ‘nuclear option the filibuster is not broken. The most senior Democrat in the Senate Leahy tweeted last week that when it comes to a Supreme Court nominee, he is generally:
“…Never inclined to filibuster.”
Sen. Chris Coons (Delaware) – Another member of the Judiciary Committee, Coons has a previous record of crossing the aisle. He is said to be part of informal talks on averting the ‘nuclear option’ if Gorsuch does not get the 60 votes needed.
Sen. Michael Bennet (Colorado) – As one of the two Colorado Senators who introduced Gorsuch to the hearing, it would be easy to assume Bennet would be falling down on the red side of the vote. However, the Senator has said he only introduced Gorsuch due to tradition (Gorsuch is from Colorado), and it did not necessarily reflect how he would vote.
So there you have it, the 10 who could join the filibuster and potentially provoke the Republicans into the ‘nuclear option,’ or decide that Gorsuch is the lesser of the two evils and vote for his nomination.

Featured Image Provided By Senator Claire McCaskill Via Flickr/CC-By-ND-2.0.

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