Trump's Supreme Court Pick Tests Vulnerable Senate Democrats

It may soon become difficult to determine who sits in the hotter seat: U.S. President Donald Trump’s Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh or Senate Democrats from conservative states who must decide whether they are jeopardizing their political careers by opposing him.

Trump, a Republican, named Kavanaugh, a federal appeals court judge from Washington, to the highest court on Monday, setting the stage for a political fight that could consume the weeks before the congressional elections in November.

Conservative advocacy groups are ready to pressure five moderate Senate Democrats to support Kavanaugh, all of whom are up for reelection in states that overwhelmingly backed Trump in his presidential run. They argue that not doing so will damage the senators politically.

The Senate must confirm Trump’s nominee by a majority vote. The president’s party holds 51 of 100 Senate seats, so liberal groups will apply pressure on those same Democrats to hold firm against Kavanaugh because the loss of only a Republican vote or two could sink the nomination.

“They are stuck between a rock and a hard place,” said Ford O’Connell, a Republican strategist.

Three of those largely rural state Democrats, Joe Donnelly of Indiana, Heidi Heitkamp of North Dakota, and Joe Manchin of West Virginia, voted to confirm Trump’s previous Supreme Court nominee, Neil Gorsuch, last year. All three have touted their ability to work with Trump on various issues.

The other two Democrats in so-called red states that lean Republican, Claire McCaskill of Missouri and Jon Tester of Montana, are also at risk of losing their seats.

Read more from James Oliphant at Reuters

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