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July 25, 2005

Political Implications of the SCOTUS Confirmation Vote

This Associated Press article speculates on the possible impact that 2008 Presidential aspirations may have on certain Senators' votes when Judge Roberts nomination comes up for vote both in the Judiciary Committee as well as the full Senate (hat tip: Rich Galen). While the article is somewhat interesting it misses what I believe is the bigger story: the 2006 Congressional Elections.

Democrats will be under tremendous pressure from constiuent special interest groups to vote against Judge Roberts. However, Bill Nelson (D-FL), Ben Nelson (D-NE), and Kent Conrad (D-ND) are all in situations where they may need to vote to confirm Roberts in order to appease a growing conservative electorate in their states and ensure their re-election.

Meanwhile, Republicans Lincoln Chaffee (RI) and Olympia Snowe (ME) have both angered conservatives with their centrist voting patterns. Chaffee in particular may face a primary challenge from a more conservative Republican and may feel he needs to vote for Roberts in order to appease conservatives. Ohio's Mike DeWine, who was one of the Gang of 14 who forged the deal that temporary halted judicial filibusters may also face a conservative challenger next spring and may vote to confirm Roberts to appease conservatives.

I have my doubts that Presidential aspirations will matter much in this confirmation vote. The only question remaining is how much Democrats will fight Judge Roberts' confirmation which appears to be more inevitable with each passing day.

Posted by Tom at July 25, 2005 12:03 AM

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A good piece Tom, but I believe "that Presidential aspirations will matter much in this confirmation vote." It seems that Hillary Clinton is ready to vote to confirm Roberts (according to Matt Drudge). Either she understands the role the Senate should play in confirming judges (as the Senate did with her husband's two nominees) or she is racing to the preverbal middle to make her more moderate. The cynical side of me believes that the latter is likely the case.

But I believe the aim of your post is correct. That there will be D's and R's in Congress looking at this confirmation vote very closely because they know their constituents are watching closely.

I am in Ohio and your observation about Sen. DeWine is right on point. Republicans in Ohio are very frustrated with him. While I haven't heard any serious primary election challengers emerge, I believe that Sen. DeWine is very vulnerable to a tough general election. If the Dems find a decent candidate and couple that with the self destruction problems the Ohio Republican Party is having, DeWine (among other Ohio Republicans) could be in trouble.

I enjoy your blog immensely. Keep up the great work.

Posted by: Deering at July 25, 2005 03:10 PM

I heard a rumor in political circles in Ohio that former Congressman Bob McEwen (R-OH) is seriously looking to take on the Buckeye state's senior Senator in the 2006 Republican Primary. Mr. McEwen lost a bid in a special primary election to fill Ohio's 2nd Congressional District seat vacated by Rob Portman due to his Presidential appointment to be the US Trade Rep. It was a nasty primary between several candidates. Most of the attention was given to the nasty campaigning between McEwen and (interestinly enough) Pat DeWine, a Hamilton County commissioner and (most notably) Senator Mike DeWine's son. Former State Representative Jean Schmidt ended up sneaking in for the Republican primary victory.

The special election for the second district will be held on Tuesday August second between Ms. Schmidt and Democrat Paul Hackett. It turns out that this race is polling much closer than it actually should. This is a VERY conservative Republican district and the Republicans may see it slip through their fingers. Turnout (as always) will be the key for both candidates.

Posted by: Deering at July 29, 2005 06:47 PM