Democrats have been threatening Armageddon in order to defeat Brett Kavanaugh, the president’s nominee for the Supreme Court. Their frothing at the mouth base has been issuing blood curdling warnings to any Democratic senator who dares break ranks and vote for him.
But some Democrats, at least, aren’t being intimidated.
Manchin suggested to Politico that Schumer does not have any influence over whether or not he supports Brett Kavanaugh’s nomination.
“I’ll be 71 years old in August, you’re going to whip me? Kiss my you know what,” Manchin told Politico, referring to whipping votes among the party caucus.
Schumer has spoken out harshly against Kavanaugh and vowed to oppose him “with everything I’ve got.” Democrats will need at least two GOP votes, in addition to all Democrats, to block the nomination.
But Democrats up for reelection in Trump states are not guaranteed votes against the confirmation, and many have signaled that Schumer’s efforts may not be enough to convince them to vote against the nominee.
Manchin is in a tough re-election fight in West Virginia with the state’s GOP attorney general, Patrick Morrissey, and knows that a good way to energize opposition to him is to vote against the nominee of a president who carried the state by 40 points.
But Manchin isn’t the only red state Democratic senator who is telling Schumer to butt out:
“My decision won’t have anything to do with Chuck Schumer,” Sen. Joe Donnelly (D-Ind.) told Politico. Donnelly, in addition to Manchin and Sen. Heidi Heitkamp (D-N.D.) all voted in support of Neil Gorsuch.
Sen. Claire McCaskill (D-Mo.) told Politico that Schumer “knows better” than to try to pressure her to vote a certain way.
“He doesn’t come to me and say: ‘You’ve got to vote with us on this.’ He knows I’ll tell him to take a flyin’ leap,” she said. “I’m going to do what I think is right. It has nothing to do with the party.”
You can add North Dakota Democrat Heidi Heitkamp to that list as well. All four are locked in tight races in states carried by Trump in 2016.
With Republicans appearing to be united on Kavanaugh’s nomination, it may make it easier for several Democrats to defy their party and vote to seat him. Under usual circumstances in an election year, a majority leader like Schumer would recognize the difficulty of the vote and release his colleagues to “vote their conscience” (or their political interest).
But the far-left base of the Democratic Party will not be so understanding. Even if Kavanaugh would have been confirmed anyway, any Democrat who strays will feel the full fury of the extremists. A candidate like Manchin may think that the base is not as important in his state and care more about pleasing swing voters who supported Trump.
That makes it likely that at least two or three Democratic senators will end up casting votes for Kavanaugh’s confirmation.