"I think they will bear some resemblance to a piñata," said Sen. John Cornyn of Texas.
"What I don't understand is how someone who actually wants to be confirmed to the Supreme Court would actually allow themselves to be used by the administration in a political fight that's going to last from now until the end of the year," Cornyn told a small group of reporters in the Capitol.
He added: "Because there is no guarantee, certainly, after that time they're going to look as good as they did going in."
Cornyn, a member of the Judiciary Committee, adamantly opposes confirming President Barack Obama's Supreme Court pick to replace the late Justice Antonin Scalia, a conservative stalwart on the bench who died last month.
Obama is expected to name a replacement any day.
"There is no question Democrats would do the same thing if the shoe was on the other foot based on their prior conduct and I don't think the voters are really interested in seeing the ideological balance of the court changed for the next 30 years by a lame duck president," Cornyn said.
The tension between the parties was on full display on the Senate floor when Democratic Leader Harry Reid continued his weeks-long tirade against the Republican chairman of the Judiciary Committee, Chuck Grassley of Iowa, for vowing not to schedule a confirmation hearing for an eventual nominee.
"He is allowing himself and his committee to be manipulated by the Republican leader for narrow, partisan warfare. He is taking his orders from the Republican leader and, sadly, Donald Trump," Reid said. "Donald Trump on this issue, when asked about it, his words were three: 'Delay, delay, delay.' Grassley must have been listening."
Democrats believe that under enough pressure Grassley, who is up for re-election, could crumble and open the door to a hearing and a vote for a nominee. But Grassley didn't sound like he was ready to fold when he responded to Reid.
"The tantrums on the other side continue," said Grassley. "But I guess it shouldn't surprise anybody as everyone knows around here nothing makes the minority leader more mad than when his side is forced to play by its own rules."
Grassley also compared Obama to King George III for "executive overreach," which he said frustrated the founding fathers then and frustrates the Senate Republicans now.
Also Monday, Reid met in his Capitol office with Patty Judge, a Democrat and former lieutenant governor of Iowa who just announced she will challenge Grassley this fall.
Cornyn said he has no doubts about the 82-year-old Grassley's ability to withstand political pressure from Democrats.
"They don't know Chuck Grassley," Cornyn said. "He's like a rock."
Interest groups on the left and right are lined up to champion their causes in what is expected to be an expensive and protracted battle that could undermine the candidate, no matter how well qualified or liked he or she is.
"As a practical matter, there would be no requirement on the part of a Democratic president to reappoint the same person. So I think they need to realize we're serious about the position we've taken," Cornyn said.