Consequence of Kavanaugh: GOP Needs a Hugin Win to Retain Senate Control

Senate Republican Judiciary Committee Chair Chuck Grassley is scheduling for Friday, September 28, 2018 a committee vote on the confirmation of Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh, regardless of the outcome of the testimony on Thursday, September 27, 2018 of Kavanaugh and Dr. Christine Blasey Ford, the woman who claims to have been sexually assaulted by him in the 1980s. We may then anticipate a vote on the nomination by the entire Senate during the week of October 1, 2018.  

Senate Republican leader Mitch McConnell will place enormous pressure on his members to vote to confirm Kavanaugh, and he will be confirmed. This will be the ultimate Pyrrhic victory. The backlash among American women to the GOP steamrolling of this nomination and the majority disapproval of Donald Trump by the American electorate will result in the Democrats winning control of the US Senate on Election Day Tuesday, November 6, 2018. It is already a foregone conclusion that the Democrats will win control of the House of Representatives. 

Here is the math behind my Senate prediction: 

The only Democratic incumbent Senator to lose will be Heidi Heitkamp in North Dakota. All other Democrat incumbents will win, propelled by the backlash among Democratic and Independent women voters to Trump and Kavanaugh. 

Evidence Exhibit “A”: Quinnipiac Poll now reports that incumbent Florida Democratic Senator Bill Nelson, tied with Republican challenger Florida Governor Rick Scott three weeks ago, now leads by seven points.  

A key factor in the Nelson surge: The backlash among women voters to Brett Kavanaugh. Nelson has a 17-point lead with women voters in the poll and a 16-point advantage among independents. On the question of whether the Senate should confirm Brett Kavanaugh as a Supreme Court justice, 47 percent said yes and 48 percent said no. Women voters oppose the Kavanaugh nomination, 54 to 41. 

Other than Heitkamp, Nelson was considered to be the most endangered Senate Democratic incumbent. Powered by the anti-Trump, anti-Kavanaugh backlash, Nelson will now win, as will the other two targeted Democratic incumbent Senators, Claire McCaskill in Missouri and Joe Donnelly in Missouri.  

This backlash among women will also enable three Democratic challengers, who are currently in the lead, to win Senate seats presently held by Republicans. These three Democratic challengers are Congresswomen Jacky Rosen and Kyrsten Sinema in Nevada and Arizona, respectively and former Governor Phil Bredesen in Tennessee. The victory of these three Democratic Senate challengers, combined with the anticipated North Dakota Heidi Heitkamp loss, will give Democrats a 51-49 margin and with that, control of the US Senate.  

There is another Republican vulnerable incumbent Senator who could have lost due to the forthcoming anti-Kavanaugh backlash: Senator Ted Cruz in Texas. The demonstrators who harassed him and his wife in a Washington restaurant on Monday night, however, have now guaranteed his reelection.

Accordingly, the GOP will now need a victory over another vulnerable Democratic incumbent in order to emerge from the election with at least 50 Senate seats, which together with Vice President Mike Pence as tiebreaker, would enable the Republicans to retain Senate control. The most likely vulnerable Democrat Senator for the GOP to target would be New Jerseys Bob Menendez. 

Unfortunately for the Republicans, their candidate is Bob Hugin. I have previously written about his major deficiencies as a Senate candidate, including 1) his close past relationships with Donald Trump and Chris Christie; 2) as CEO of Celgene, hisprevention of competition from generic drug manufacturers, which enabled his company to keep its prices artificially high; and 3) as an alumnus in his thirties, his opposition to the admission of women to thePrinceton University Tiger Inn eating club.  

A Hugin victory isn’t going to happen. If New Jersey Republican leaders had prevailed upon Senate Republican Leader TomKean, Jr. to run for the seat, they would had had an outstanding chance to win it. Now, their failure to do so may be a major cause of the GOP losing control of the United States Senate. 

Get ready to call him Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer. 

Alan J. Steinberg served as Regional Administrator of Region 2 EPA during the administration of former President George W. Bush and as Executive Director of the New Jersey Meadowlands Commission under former New Jersey Governor Christie Whitman. 

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