Yesterday, I noted that Sen. John McCain has strongly backed the nomination of Judge Brett Kavanaugh. I think McCain’s endorsement bodes well for the nominee even if McCain isn’t physically able to vote for him because it’s indicative of how Kavanaugh is viewed by moderate Republicans. Obviously, the endorsement bodes even better if McCain is able to vote for Kavanaugh. In that scenario, the judge can be confirmed even with one Republican defection.
Allahpundit at Hot Air takes the analysis further. He discusses the possibility that, if necessary, McCain might resign from the Senate so he can be replaced by someone who can vote to confirm Kavanaugh. The power to appoint a replacement resides with the state’s Republican governor, and the replacement would not be up for reelection until 2020.
I have assumed that McCain would never resign. However, I can imagine him doing so for the good of the country if it makes the difference between confirming and not confirming Kavanaugh.
Allpundit speculates that we won’t reach that point. He thinks Sen. Susan Collins will back Kavanaugh and, indeed, the early signs are good. He also thinks that if Collins doesn’t support Kavanaugh, Sen. Lisa Murkowski will shy away too, meaning that an extra vote (by McCain or his replacement) won’t be sufficient.
I don’t view Collins and Murkowski as joined at the hip on this matter. The Alaska Senator has a long record of voting to confirm nominees to the judiciary by presidents of both parties. She’s on record that presidents deserve plenty of deference in this matter, and her votes are consistent with that sentiment.
If there’s a smoking gun that shows Kavanaugh is hell bent on reversing Roe v. Wade, Murkowski might well join with Collins in opposing him. But if Collins were to reject Kavanaugh based on mere suspicion, a reading of the tea leaves, it’s questionable whether Murkowski would go along.
The real problem might be Sen. Rand Paul. As Allahpundit puts it, “Paul might decide that Kavanaugh’s work on Bush’s counterterror programs after 9/11 [is] a bridge too far for him.”
He might. But I suspect Majority Leader McConnell has expressed some level of confidence to President Trump that Paul won’t sink this nominee. For that matter, we know that Trump consulted with Collins and Murkowski. It’s likely that he came away with some level of confidence about where they stand.
So it seems unlikely that Kavanaugh will need two votes from Arizona Senators. If he does, McCain might resign so Kavanaugh can secure them. Especially if Rand Paul, of whom McCain certainly is no fan, becomes the sticking point.