Democratic senators facing tough races in Republican-leaning states are the target of a new ad from a Democratic group that pressures them to vote down President Donald Trump’s nominee to the Supreme Court.
In a new six-figure ad campaign, Demand Justice – a Democratic group aiming to sink Brett Kavanaugh’s nomination – will hit three red-state Democrats with ads urging them to vote against Kavanaugh because Republican pundits and television personalities have raised questions about his credentials and ties to the President’s message.
The ads, which will target Sen. Joe Donnelly in Indiana, Sen. Heidi Heitkamp in North Dakota and Sen. Joe Manchin in West Virginia, will begin airing on Thursday.
Donnelly, Heitkamp and Manchin are three of the most vulnerable Senate Democrats up for re-election in 2018 and they all voted for Trump’s first Supreme Court pick, Neil Gorsuch. All three also represent states Trump handily won in 2016 and their decision on Kavanaugh will be closely watched ahead of the November elections to see how they plan to run in the final weeks of the campaign.
“Meet Brett Kavanaugh: Son of a Washington lobbyist, as a judge ruled for special interests, lived the high life in Washington,” the narrator says in the piece. “No wonder conservatives are upset.”
The ad paints Kavanaugh as a Washington insider who is out of step with Trump’s campaign promises. When the narrator says Kavanaugh has “lived the high life in Washington,” the price tag of his $92,000-a-year membership to the Chevy Chase Club country club, outside Washington, flashes on the screen.
The ad then pivots to the words of Republicans.
“A lot of the folks in the base really were sort of turned off to Brett Kavanaugh,” says former Sen. Rick Santorum, a Pennsylvania Republican. “He is from Washington. He is the establishment pick.”
Ben Shapiro, the conservative commentator, then adds: “I’ve got problems with Kavanaugh in general. He’s kind of the DC insider pick.”
Judge Andrew Napolitano, a Fox News analyst, is shown saying, “This person is at the heart and soul of the DC establishment.”
When a Fox News hosts asks the analyst whether Kavanaugh is a “swamp pick” – a reference to Trump’s pledge to “drain the swamp” in Washington – Napolitano says yes.
“These Republicans have it right,” the narrator says before urging viewers to tell their respective senators to “oppose Kavanaugh for Supreme Court.”
Brian Fallon, Demand Justice’s top operative, told CNN, “If (Kavanaugh) gets confirmed for the Supreme Court, he will be a reliable vote for special interests. This should not be considered a hard vote even for red-state Democrats.”
Heitkamp and Donnelly met with Kavanaugh on Wednesday.
“I want to get a sense of who he is as a person,” Heitkamp told CNN before the meeting. “The single most important thing for me is somebody who approaches every case with a completely open mind.”
Democratic groups like Demand Justice have been worried that the party’s long odds of stopping Trump’s Supreme Court pick could get longer if senators like Heitkamp back Kavanaugh, so the group has aired a series of ads pushing them to stay with the party.
Demand Justice also has leaned on moderate Republican senators like Susan Collins of Maine and Lisa Murkowski of Alaska with ads urging them to protect abortion rights.
“If Donald Trump has his way,” says the narrator in an ad released earlier this year, “the next Supreme Court pick will turn the court against a woman’s constitutional right to safe, legal abortion.”