Already, Republican candidates running against the chamber’s most vulnerable Democrats up for re-election this year have made the nomination part of their pitch to mobilize voters.
Missouri Attorney General Josh Hawley, a Yale law graduate who clerked for Chief Justice John Roberts, released his first television ad Monday, arguing that "our way of life is as risk" and that "the eyes of the nation" are on his state, which Trump won by nearly 20 percentage points. "We decide which values control the Senate, and the Supreme Court," Hawley says in the ad. "Claire McCaskill wants liberals in charge. That’s how she votes. That’s not Missouri’s way, and it won’t be my way."
West Virginia Attorney General Patrick Morrisey, who is running against Democratic Sen. Joe Manchin, released a memo highlighting the incumbent's support for Obamacare and abortion rights, key issues that Democrats argue are at stake with this new court pick. Morrisey "will use this opportunity to remind voters about his West Virginia conservative values, strong record defending the Constitution, and his staunch support for President Trump’s conservative judicial picks," said campaign communications director Nathan Brand.
Manchin was one of three Democrats who voted last year with Republicans to confirm Trump's first Supreme Court nominee, Neil Gorsuch. Others include North Dakota's Heidi Heitkamp and Indiana's Joe Donnelly, who are also up for re-election in the fall. But since Kavanaugh would swing the balance of the court for a many years to come, lawmakers have additional considerations this time around. The calculus is extraordinarily tricky for vulnerable Democrats, who are weighing the Trump resistance among the party base along with the political reality of their conservative-leaning states.