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Kavanaugh Column, News

Joe Donnelly: A Hoosier in the Dock

Like several other Senate Democrats, Indiana Democratic Senator Joe Donnelly is feeling the heat from the Kavanaugh confirmation vote. Donnelly is in a statistical dead heat against businessman Mike Braun for his Senate seat this November. The Hoosier State is reddest in Fort Wayne, and the News-Sentinel yesterday called on Donnelly to vote to confirm Kavanaugh. The more progressive Indianapolis Star has been noncommittal about the vote, but realistic about its consequences. “ Just two months out from the election, Donnelly risks losing Trump supporters and Republicans if he votes against Kavanaugh — and his base if he votes for him,” the paper warned recently.

With razor-thin margins in polling between Senate Democrats facing re-election this fall and their Republican opponents, Senators Donnelly, Heidi Heitkamp of North Dakota, John Tester of Montana, Claire McCaskill of Missouri and Joe Manchin of West Virginia are carefully calibrating the political risk of voting down Kavanaugh in pro-Trump, pro-life states. A public vote against the nominee on the basis of conjecture that he may vote to overturn Roe v. Wade could swing the election against any of them, and throw the Senate deeper into a Republican majority – and ironically, strengthen the GOP’s hand in re-making the federal judiciary over the next two years.