A crowdfunding campaign that aims to punish Maine Sen. Susan Collins for her vote to confirm Brett Kavanaugh to the Supreme Court has collected more than $4 million for her eventual opponent in 2020. A petition to impeach the newly confirmed Kavanaugh has drawn more than 150,000 signatures.
Waves of volunteers, meanwhile, have signed up for tens of thousands of shifts to turn out voters in crucial congressional races in November’s midterm elections just four weeks away.
Progressive groups say Kavanaugh’s confirmation has unleashed a new surge of Democratic anger, and they are racing to transform that energy into voter turnout for the fast-approaching midterms and build lists of activists and donors they can rely on in the future. But some Democrats warn that aggressive moves to confront Republicans – such as promoting impeachment of Kavanaugh – could prove counterproductive to the party’s efforts to flip the House if they serve to galvanize the Republican base.
“People are angry and outraged, and it’s up to us to harness all of our feelings into action,” said Marie Follayttar, who runs Mainers for Accountable Leadership and helped organize the unconventional fundraising drive against Collins. “That action now is the midterms.”
Follayttar’s group joined two other liberal organizations last month to launch a campaign to pressure Collins, a key swing vote on Kavanaugh, to oppose his confirmation. Donors made pledges to donate to the Democrat who wins the Senate nomination in Maine in two years when Collins is up for re-election.
Those pledges became firm contributions once Collins cast her “yes” vote for Kavanaugh. So many pledges poured in during Collins’ floor speech Friday announcing her support for Kavanaugh, that it caused a brief crash of the crowdfunding site.
The online effort, which has attracted donations from 121,000 people, has drawn Collins’ ire, who said it amounts to bribery. And a watchdog group that often aligns with Republicans has asked the Justice Department to investigate the tactic.
But Collins’ decision to back Kavanaugh also has helped inspire liberal activists to donate their time as well as their campaign cash.
MobilizeAmerica, an online platform that connects volunteers to liberal groups and candidates, saw a surge in activity as Collins delivered her nearly 45-minute speech that clinched Kavanaugh’s place on the high court, officials said.
On Sunday alone, one day after the final Senate vote on Kavanaugh’s confirmation, 8,800 liberal activists signed up to participate door-knocking and other volunteer activity related to the midterms, said Alfred Johnson, the co-founder of MobilizeAmerica.
That’s a big jump from the roughly 3,400 volunteers who signed up the previous Sunday, Johnson said.
“People are basically, saying ‘I’m angry, and I’m going to do something about it,’” he said in a telephone interview.
Other liberal organizations are determined to remove Kavanaugh from the bench, arguing the former federal appellate court judge was not truthful in his testimony before Senate Judiciary Committee. One group, CREDO Action, has gathered 157,000 signatures, urging the House to investigate and launch impeachment proceedings.
“Republicans in this Congress have been unable to do any meaningful oversight of the Trump administration,” said Josh Nelson, the co-director of CREDO Action. “When Democrats take over one or more chambers, we expect real investigations.”
Those calls for impeachment have become an election rallying cry for Republicans in recent days.
On Monday, President Donald Trump called the impeachment push an “insult to the American people” and described the sexual misconduct allegations against Kavanaugh as a “hoax” perpetrated by Democrats.
In a fundraising email, Missouri Attorney General Josh Hawley, the Republican hoping to oust Democratic Sen. Claire McCaskill, cited the impeachment threats as a reason to donate to his campaign and retain a GOP majority in the Senate next year.
“Democrats weren’t able to obstruction Kavanaugh’s confirmation, so now they’re threatening to remove him by congressional force,” Hawley wrote.
“This is what will happen if Democrats gain the Senate majority once again,” he added. “Every politician who stands up to them … will be threatened with removal.”
Any impeachment proceeding would begin in the House, where Democrats need to win just 23 GOP-held seats to seize control of the chamber. And the top Democrat on the House Judiciary Committee, New York Rep. Jerry Nadler, has raised the possibility of a House investigation of Kavanaugh should his party prevail in next month’s elections.
But removing Kavanaugh from office – an action unprecedented for a Supreme Court justice – would require a supermajority of 67 votes in the Senate.
Over the weekend, Sen. Chris Coons, a Delaware Democrat, called the impeachment talk “premature.” In an interview on NBC’s “Meet the Press,” Coons said senators instead should focus on helping “heal and lead” the country, following the wrenching confirmation process.
Jim Manley, a Democratic strategist who served as a top aide to former Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, said Democrats need to maintain a laser focus on the midterms, now less than a month away.
“I understand the anger that is out there right now. But the fact is that until Democrats get 67 votes in the Senate, (impeachment) is never going to happen,” he said. “Focus on the midterms and leave this other stuff, until we flip the House.”