Kevin Daley, DCNF
Interest group efforts to pressure two Republican lawmakers to oppose Judge Brett Kavanaugh’s confirmation to the U.S. Supreme Court do not appear to be resonating in their home states.
Progressive advocacy groups hope to convince GOP Sens. Susan Collins of Maine and Lisa Murkowski of Alaska — two moderate, pro-choice Republicans — to break with their caucus and oppose Kavanaugh, who may cast the decisive fifth vote for a range of social victories that have eluded conservatives for decades.
But Collins and Murkowski say the confirmation fracas doesn’t resonate with their constituents to the same degree as other issues, particularly the GOP’s failed attempts at repealing the Affordable Care Act early in the Trump administration.
“The protests are similar, the media campaign is more aggressive this time, but the constituent involvement is less,” Collins told the Washington Post.
Murkowski struck a similar cord, saying constituent engagement related to Kavanaugh is less ardent as compared to Obamacare.
“The level of just emotional outpouring that made it just — intense is the best word — is different than it is now,” Murkowski told the Post.
Progressives hoped to close the GOP’s competitive advantage on judicial nominations this summer. In recent years conservatives have erected a standing confirmation infrastructure to support Republican judicial nominees and mobilize grassroots support in their favor. Groups like the Judicial Crisis Network and Americans for Prosperity have spent millions on multi-platform ad buys targeting key lawmakers, while social conservative associations like the Susan B. Anthony List and the Family Research Council use volunteers and email lists for direct peer-to-peer engagement.
A new advocacy outfit at the center of the left’s efforts, Demand Justice, promised to spend $5 million opposing the Kavanaugh nomination. Demand Justice is staffed by alums of the Obama administration and the Clinton presidential campaign.
The Daily Caller News Foundation reported on July 18 that Demand Justice, like its conservative counterparts, hides the sources of its funding through an opaque organizational structure.
Collins and Murkowski’s early appraisal of liberal organizing around the confirmation suggests progressives are falling short of their goals, at least at this early stage.
The Daily Beast reported in mid-July that Democratic anti-Kavanaugh efforts have been slow to materialize.
Neither Collins nor Murkowski has publicly committed to supporting Kavanaugh, and they have yet to meet with him privately. Supreme Court nominees meet privately with most lawmakers in advance of their confirmation hearings.
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