Senator Joe Manchin (D-West Virginia) announced Friday that he would vote to confirm Brett Kavanaugh to the Supreme Court — making him the only Democrat to do so.
in a statement posted to Twitter Friday afternoon, Sen. Manchin cited a private meeting with Kavanaugh lasting more than two hours and comments from constituents as the primary reason for his support.
“I have found Judge Kavanaugh to be a qualified jurist who will follow the Constitution and determine cases based on the legal findings before him,” Manchin stated. “I do hope that Judge Kavanaugh will not allow the partisan nature this process took to follow him onto the court.”
I will vote to support Supreme Court nominee Judge Brett Kavanaugh. pic.twitter.com/1FfuMTOZz8
— Senator Joe Manchin (@Sen_JoeManchin) October 5, 2018
The political argument for Manchin’s decision is hard to refute — the former governor is a Democrat running for re-election in November in a state where Donald Trump took home more than two-thirds of all votes. The current RealClearPolitics polling average puts him at an advantage of 9.4 points over his Republican opponent, Patrick Morrisey, though as 2016 showed, polls can be deceiving.
Despite Sen. Manchin breaking with his entire party — even fellow Democrats from states Trump won who are running for re-election this year like Senators Heidi Heitkamp (D-North Dakota) and Claire McCaskill (D-Missouri) — he’s gotten no love from either President Trump’s eldest don, Donald Jr., one of his chief surrogates.
“A real profile in courage from Lyin’ liberal @JoeManchinWV,” Trump Jr. tweeted. “Waited until Kavanaugh had enough votes secured before he announced his support.”
Trump Jr. then told his followers to support Manchin’s Republican opponent.
A real profile in courage from Lyin’ liberal @JoeManchinWV. Waited until Kavanugh had enough votes secured before he announced his support. I bet he had another press release ready to go if Collins went the other way.
— Donald Trump Jr. (@DonaldJTrumpJr) October 5, 2018
“I voted almost 70 percent of the time with President Trump,” Manchin told the State Journal. “I’ve been deferential to the president. I’ve voted for most of his appointments — even the controversial ones — as long as they were qualified.”
Of course, Manchin’s decision to support Kavanaugh put him at odds with Democratic groups spending on behalf of incumbent Democrats running for re-election in battleground states. Liberal group MoveOn.org tweeted that they were pulling all support from West Virginia if Sen. Manchin indeed votes yes on Kavanaugh’s confirmation Saturday evening. MoveOn also said it would cease its support of Democrat Phil Bredesen in Tennessee, who issued a statement in support of Kavanaugh on Friday morning.
We're cancelling a planned six-figure digital video ad expenditure for Phil Bredesen in Tennessee due to his Kavanaugh position. And similarly will be pulling all planned campaigning on behalf of Joe Manchin in West Virginia if he votes yes. Kavanaugh is unfit for the Court.
— MoveOn (@MoveOn) October 5, 2018
It remains to be seen whether or not Manchin will pay a political price in November for his support of Trump’s second Supreme Court pick. Democratic women voters will almost certainly be less motivated to support Manchin, in the wake of this week’s occupation of Kavanaugh’s office by multiple survivors of sexual assault. But if the responses to his statement are any indicator, Democrats may end up making Manchin pay for his vote by losing theirs.
I think I’ll send money to his Republican opponent. I don’t want him at our party. #FBR
— Susan B (@suerb2) October 5, 2018
He is a Republican in sheep’s clothing. He always votes with Trump a high % of the time. Why not switch to a Republican Joe? pic.twitter.com/CKi1tyaSDT
— Sandy (@sj_pete) October 5, 2018
Next time, run as a Republican.
— Dan L (@MyNameIsDLo) October 5, 2018
Jake Shepherd is a freelance writer from Cleveland, Ohio. He enjoys poring through financial disclosure statements, spirited debate, and good scotch. He remains eternally optimistic about the Browns. Email him at jake.d.shepherd.21 (at) hotmail (dot) com.