Moderate Democratic Sen. Claire McCaskill will vote against Brett Kavanaugh’s nomination to the Supreme Court, narrowing the number of potential Democratic votes the nominee can secure.
The Missouri senator, who is up for reelection this fall in a conservative state, cited Kavanaugh’s views on “dark, anonymous money that is crushing our democracy.” She said that the “troubling” allegation of sexual assault leveled against Kavanaugh did not influence her decision.
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“He has revealed his bias against limits on campaign donations which places him completely out of the mainstream of this nation. He wrote, ‘And I have heard very few people say that limits on contributions to candidates are unconstitutional although I for one tend to think those limits have some constitutional problems,’” McCaskill said. “Judge Kavanaugh will give free rein to anonymous donors and foreign governments through their citizens to spend money to interfere and influence our elections with so-called ‘issue ads.’”
McCaskill also said she was “uncomfortable” with his views on executive power but said that her fear that Kavanaugh’s place on the bench would loosen political spending restrictions was the “determining factor.” Outside groups have spent more than $16 million against McCaskill and nearly $14 million against her opponent, Josh Hawley, this year.
Her opposition is not a huge surprise, given that she also voted against Justice Neil Gorsuch last year. But her decision to oppose President Donald Trump’s nominee is likely to animate her race against Hawley, Missouri’s GOP attorney general and a former law clerk to Chief Justice John Roberts.
Hawley said on Hugh Hewitt’s radio show on Wednesday that “people are very, very upset by what they see as an ambush” on Kavanaugh by Democrats after the allegations were raised against him just two weeks before his likely confirmation vote. Hawley has repeatedly hammered McCaskill for opposing Republican nominees and supporting the Supreme Court picks of President Barack Obama and touted his support for Kavanaugh often.
“Nobody is surprised. Claire McCaskill is now 0 for 6 on Supreme Court nominees since she started running for the Senate 12 long years ago,” Hawley said in a statement. “She has sided with Chuck Schumer every single time — for liberals and against Missouri.“
While conservatives may dislike her “no” vote, McCaskill’s decision could also help her turn out the Democratic voters in Kansas City in St. Louis that she needs to win reelection. Her race is essentially tied.
No Democrats yet support Kavanaugh, though he does not need their support to get confirmed if he wins over 50 of the 51 Senate Republicans. Democratic Sens. Doug Jones of Alabama, Heidi Heitkamp of North Dakota, Joe Manchin of West Virginia, Joe Donnelly of Indiana and Jon Tester of Montana are all undecided.