Politics Susan Collins faces political land mine with Supreme Court fight

13:40  24 september  2020
13:40  24 september  2020 Source:   thehill.com

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Susan Margaret Collins (born December 7, 1952) is an American politician serving as the senior United States Senator for Maine. A Republican, she has represented Maine in the Senate since 1997.

Susan Collins Susan Margaret Collins The Hill's Campaign Report: Biden asks if public can trust vaccine from Trump ahead political fight of her life against state House Speaker Sara Gideon to win another six-year term. “ My opponents say I’ve changed, but I haven’t,” Collins says, going on to

a person standing in front of a building: Susan Collins faces political land mine with Supreme Court fight © Bonnie Cash Susan Collins faces political land mine with Supreme Court fight

Sen. Susan Collins (R-Maine) finds herself having to navigate a political land mine as Senate Republicans push to confirm President Trump's Supreme Court nominee before Election Day.

The death of Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg has thrown a wild card into the battle for control of the Senate, and poured fuel onto what was already a contentious issue in Maine: Collins's votes on Trump's judicial nominees, especially her support for Justice Brett Kavanaugh's confirmation in 2018.

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Susan Collins walks to a room to read the report on the FBI investigation into Supreme Court nominee Brett M. Kavanaugh on Capitol Hill on Oct. 4, 2018. Demonstrators protesting the nomination and possible confirmation of Kavanaugh to the Supreme Court , rally across the street from the Portland

Susan Collins is in the political fight of her life, and Brett Kavanaugh is a huge factor. New revelations about US Supreme Court Justice Brett Kavanaugh — including details about a rushed FBI investigation into the “Have I lost some votes because of my decision to support Justice Kavanaugh?

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) hasn't announced when the chamber plans to vote on Trump's forthcoming pick, but Republicans appear increasingly eager to finish the confirmation process before Nov. 3. That would force Collins into a high-profile break with Trump just days before the election.

"I think the one in probably the hardest spot is her. ... Not only can you not make everybody happy, but sometimes you can't make anybody happy," said GOP strategist Doug Heye.

"They're damned if you do, and worse if you don't - and that's somewhere Collins may find herself," he added.

In some respects, Collins is in familiar territory at the center of a consuming political fight as part of the Senate's shrinking coalition of GOP moderates. At 67.5 percent, Collins votes with Trump less than any other GOP senator, according to the political data website FiveThirtyEight.

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Senator Susan Collins , Republican of Maine, during a break in the Clinton impeachment trial in 1999. She was among the moderate Republicans whose votes could have altered the trial’s trajectory.Credit David Hume Kennerly/Getty Images.

Susan Collins and share her opposition to Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh. The bus was full of sexual assault survivors, who shared their stories with their seat mates as they crawled toward the Capitol. She’s just going to disregard that and put a potential rapist on the highest court in the land .”

But the news of Ginsburg's death comes as Collins is locked in a fierce fight for her political life. And the danger for her is particularly acute heading into November: Though she won more than 68 percent of the vote in 2014, her race is rated a toss-up and, according to a RealClearPolitics average of state polling, Democratic nominee Sara Gideon is ahead by 6 percentage points.

Of the 23 GOP senators defending their seats in November, Collins is the only one who says she does not believe Republicans should vote on a nominee before the election, citing the GOP's refusal to give Merrick Garland, then-President Obama's final Supreme Court nominee, a hearing or a vote nine months before the 2016 election.

Collins went a step further with reporters in the Capitol on Tuesday, saying she would vote against a nominee if McConnell holds a confirmation vote before Nov. 3.

"If there is [a vote], I would oppose the nominee, not because I might not support that nominee under normal circumstances, but we're simply too close to the election. And in the interest of being fair to the American people - and consistent, since it was with the Garland nomination that the decision was made not to proceed, a decision that I disagreed with, but my position did not prevail - I now think we need to play by the same set of rules," she said.

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“ Susan Collins is just not the leader she once was, particularly when it comes to reproductive health and rights. ( Collins objected to President Barack Obama’s designation of the land as a national monument, contending that there was no consensus among Mainers about the designation and that

Sen. Susan Collins , R-Maine. Collins ' decision on whether to confirm Kavanaugh could very well “ My standards for Supreme Court nominees are extremely high. It is my longstanding practice to Donnelly faces a fight for his political life in November. Along with Heitkamp and Manchin, he was

Collins is walking a political tightrope. She is one of two Republican senators seeking reelection in a state won by former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton in 2016, putting her political calculations at odds with the majority of Senate Republicans, who view the Supreme Court fight as a boon to rally their base or GOP-leaning voters to their side.

In 2014, Collins carried more of Maine than Trump did in 2016 - 68.5 percent compared to 44.9 percent. But she will need a coalition of Trump and Biden voters to hold onto her seat, a task made more difficult by the Supreme Court hardening battle lines on both sides.

The court fight comes as voters are quick to recount Collins's support for Kavanaugh, who faced high-profile, decades-old sexual assault allegations that upended the final weeks of his confirmation fight and made it one of the most explosive events in recent congressional history.

"The Supreme Court has already played an outsized role in the Maine Senate race, and the last thing Collins needed was this issue at the forefront again following her controversial 2018 vote to confirm Brett Kavanaugh," The Cook Political Report's Jessica Taylor wrote about the impact the vacancy could have on the Senate races.

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(CNN) Susan Collins ended the drama of Brett Kavanaugh's nomination to the Supreme Court just before 4 " My fervent hope is that Brett Kavanaugh will work to lessen the divisions in the Supreme Court so we have far The political consequences of Kavanaugh's confirmation remain to be seen.

Susan Collins on Friday ended the suspense over whether she would back Brett Kavanaugh — announcing that she would support President Trump’s Joe Manchin of West Virginia, who had also been on the fence, tweeted: “I will vote to support Supreme Court nominee Judge Brett Kavanaugh.”

The courts have bled into the Maine Senate race beyond Collins's 2018 vote. Gideon knocked the incumbent as recently as Monday over voting "to confirm over 180 of Donald Trump's unqualified, far-right judicial nominees."

Collins ran an ad before Ginsburg's death highlighting her question during the first debate with Gideon where she asked her challenger if she would have voted to confirm Chief Justice John Roberts, who has been a swing vote on key decisions that upheld the Affordable Care Act and sided earlier this year with the court's liberal justices to strike down a Louisiana abortion law.

But the looming fight over whether Republicans will fill Ginsburg's seat turbocharges the political reality facing Collins in Maine. A New York Times-Siena College Research Institute poll released late last week but conducted before Ginsburg's death found that just 38 percent of Maine voters approved of Collins's vote for Kavanaugh, compared to 55 percent who disapproved.

The poll also found that 59 percent of respondents said they trust Democratic presidential nominee Joe Biden to pick a Supreme Court justice compared to 37 percent who trusted Trump.

GOP senators say they trust Collins to balance the politics of her state with an explosive national fight that touches on live wires that run through both parties.

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"The political dynamics of her state are very different than most of our people who are running this year and she has navigated them beautifully through the years, and so we kind of defer to her and trust her judgment," said Sen. John Thune (S.D.), the No. 2 GOP senator.

A GOP official added that while the looming Supreme Court vote would put some GOP senators like Collins in a "tougher situation," it could also give her the chance to show off her independence from both McConnell and Trump.

"Two sides of the coin here: It's one that energizes the Democratic base ... but if you're someone like Susan Collins it could give you the opportunity to show you are someone who is not beholden by the party," the official said.

Breaking with Trump, though, on an issue so important to Republicans has also made Collins a target of the president and his allies.

Trump called out Collins in a recent Fox News interview, predicting that she would be "hurt very badly."

"I think that Susan Collins is going to be hurt very badly - her people aren't going to take this. People are not going to take it," he said.

Annie Clark, a spokesperson for Collins's campaign, said in response to Trump's criticism that "Collins always does what she thinks is right for Maine and America - no matter which political party is in power."

But Heye warned that by breaking with Trump, Collins is risking losing the president's voters without an obvious uptick in support on the other side of the Supreme Court fight.

"If she were to say, 'I will not vote to approve a nominee, period,' does anyone who, you know, who constantly points out, 'Oh, Susan Collins is going to put out a statement that she's very concerned about X,' do they give her any credit? They don't," he said. "You can't win without your base."

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