It’s been a couple of weeks now since President Trump nominated Brett Kavanaugh to be our next Supreme Court Associate Justice but we don’t seem to be any closer to knowing if the judge will be getting any Democratic support during his confirmation. That’s primarily because the Democrats don’t seem to even be interested in talking to him, including some who claimed he would get a fair hearing. One of the best examples of this phenomenon is Senator Joe Donnelly of Indiana. Despite his initial statements on the subject, Donnelly has fallen silent and looks to simply be keeping his head down.
This rather milquetoast approach was noted by his opponent in the midterms, former Indiana Congressman Mike Braun. He released the following statement today.
Today, Mike Braun for Indiana released the following statement calling on Democrat Senator Joe Donnelly to fulfill his promise to take the same approach in evaluating Judge Brett Kavanaugh as he did with Neil Gorsuch. While it took him only 15 days to meet with Gorsuch, Senator Donnelly has refused to even schedule a meeting with Kavanaugh…
“Senator Donnelly promised to use the Gorsuch approach to evaluate Brett Kavanaugh, and today he has broken his word. It only took 15 days for Donnelly to meet with Neil Gorsuch, yet 15 days into Kavanaugh’s nomination he still won’t meet with President Trump’s highly qualified nominee,” said Braun spokesman Josh Kelley. “Hoosiers know that action speaks louder than words, and Donnelly’s obstruction here speaks volumes about his loyalty to the Democrat Party.”
What Braun is referring to is the statement offered by Donnelly at the time of Kavanaugh’s nomination. At that time, he said, “I will take the same approach as I have previously for a Supreme Court vacancy. Following the president’s announcement, I will carefully review and consider the record and qualifications of Judge Brett Kavanaugh.”
But he’s really not walking the walk on this one. In terms of those previous court vacancies the Senator mentioned, keep in mind that President Trump nominated Neil Gorsuch on January 29th and Donnelly met with him on February 14th. That was two weeks, which seems like a reasonable amount of time to free up an hour in your schedule for such an important meeting. But now the same amount of time has passed since the Kavanaugh nomination and Donnelly still hasn’t even scheduled or asked for a meeting and remains “a question mark” as to how he will be voting.
Of course, it’s not as if Donnelly is alone among the ranks of Democrats. Everyone has had two weeks since the nomination and not a single Democrat has met with Kavanaugh yet. Joe Manchin is talking about it, but thus far that’s about it.
Donnelly seems to be playing with fire here. He’s got an election coming up in November and this is obviously one of the issues which will weigh heavily on the minds of voters. The last polling I’ve seen from a national outlet on this race is a couple of months old, but even then the race was neck-and-neck, with Braun having a slim lead inside the margins. But another poll from the Indiana Business Journal taken just two weeks ago produced the same results. This one will be a barnburner which will largely come down to how much of a lead Braun can run up in the northeast part of the state.
If Donnelly doesn’t want to at least put forward the effort to talk to Kavanaugh and demonstrate that he’s giving him a fair shake, that could well be one more ding against him this fall. He should probably keep in mind that Vice President Mike Pence is still very popular in Indiana and I wouldn’t be shocked to see him stopping by to campaign for Braun. And if the Democrats manage to bungle Donnelly’s seat in November they can probably kiss their already long-shot dreams of taking the Senate majority goodbye.