Brett Kavanaugh Is In. What’s Next?

October 19

Cole Muzio is the President & Executive Director of Family Policy Alliance of Georgia, our state-based ally in Georgia. Cole has a wealth of experience and sharp eye in political races, so we wanted to share with you his insights—and those of other Family Policy Alliance state allies—on the upcoming Midterm Election on November 6th. Please read below to find insights on the “hot races” to watch around the country.

Victory! As you know, the Supreme Court has 9 members again, and it likely shifted in a rightward, more constitutional direction with the confirmation of Brett Kavanaugh. Our prayers remain with him, his family, and, yes, Dr. Ford and others involved in this wretched process that only further divided our nation.

The consensus is clear that Justice Kavanaugh more closely represents the kind of jurist our Founders intended (and we want) than his predecessor, Anthony Kennedy. It is less clear whether his addition to the Court will usher in a sharp turn and significant, precedent-overturning decisions.

I’d like to take some time to look at what’s going on for our movement nationally as we seek to return the Court to its original intent.

At this point, we have done our job. You turned out in force in 2016, elected President Trump and a conservative Senate, and you partnered with us to encourage senators to vote for confirmation. So, with the objective of filling Kennedy’s seat fulfilled and Kavanaugh’s tenure out of our hands, what’s next?

Well, we cannot forget how close this vote was. Brett Kavanaugh received a 50-48 majority, with 3 of the 50 being on the fence until the very end. And, while I do not want to dive into the circumstances that made that vote closer than it once appeared, we must also remember that Kavanaugh was nominated, in part, because many thought he was more “confirmable” than others on the short list.

With two liberal icons- Ruther Bader Ginsburg (85) and Stephen Breyer (80)- possibly departing from the Court in the coming years, we need to increase the number of conservative Senators who would be willing to stand with a constitutional nominee like, say, Amy Comey Barrett. This election cycle is the prime time to do it.

Competitive Senate races are occurring in the following states, and I’m including the party that currently controls the seat in parentheses: Arizona (R), Florida (D), Indiana (D), Missouri (D), Montana (D), Nevada (R), North Dakota (D), Tennessee (R), Texas (R), and West Virginia (D).

Of those pivotal states, I see pro-life, pro-family candidates most likely to win in North Dakota and Texas. After the Kavanaugh vote, I see liberals most likely to keep West Virginia.

Currently, I lean toward thinking conservatives will pick up Florida, Indiana, and Missouri and keep Tennessee. Those races are all VERY close and could go either way, but, if Republicans could win there, it would bring their majority in the Senate to 53 with 3 states outstanding.

Since those states will begin seeing results earlier, we may have an inkling of how things will go in Arizona, Montana, and Nevada. As of now, the Democrat leads in the Real Clear Politics average in each state, but I suspect Republicans could win at least 1.

With a 53 or 54 member majority (my prediction, but don’t hold me to it ), President Trump should be able to nominate someone with a pro-Constitution record like Brett Kavanaugh’s, with a slightly greater cushion to lose a Republican vote or two in a Senate confirmation vote. That’s why the stakes of this election are so high!

I asked some of my Family Policy Alliance® colleagues from around the country to provide their perspective on a few of these races, and here are their thoughts:

“Polls show Congresswomen Martha McSally and Kyrsten Sinema running a very close, tight race. The two typically are 2-3 points apart with a poll yesterday showing McSally starting to inch ahead. Kyrsten Sinema has carefully recast herself as a moderate, centrist Democrat. But those who know her past in Arizona know her as an avowed liberal, former member of the Green Party. McSally is the pro-life, pro-freedom, pro-security candidate. Turnout will make the difference.”- Cathi Herrod, President of Center for Arizona Policy

“Republican Governor Rick Scott is in a dead heat with US Senator Bill Nelson. We have a Florida Governor’s race with a dynamic socialist Black American named Andrew Gillum. He is driving turn out from the left which Nelson could benefit from. It is going to be a very close race.”- John Stemberger, President of Florida Family Policy Council

“In Indiana, the race between incumbent Democrat Joe Donnelly and Republican challenger Mike Braun is razor-close. The RealClearpolitics average is +2.5 points for Donnelly. He voted against Kavanaugh, however, which helps Braun find his base as a first-time statewide candidate. It is a toss-up, but the trend favors Braun in what is being called a knife fight.”- Curt Smith, President of Indiana Family Institute

“In a race that may decide who controls the Senate, Republican Attorney General Josh Hawley is challenging incumbent Democrat Claire McCaskill in Missouri. President Trump carried Missouri by a wide margin in 2016 – and Hawley won his race for AG by even wider margins. Still, scandal in the governor’s office and Democratic anger is keeping this one close; every poll taken of the race shows a razor-thin contest. McCaskill voted against Justice Kavanaugh’s confirmation. It’s yet to be seen how that decision affects the race.”- Eric Teetsel, President of Family Policy Alliance of Kansas (closely following the race in his neighboring state)

“As the only incumbent Republican Senator to be running in a state that Hilary Clinton won in 2016, Senator Dean Heller has been in the fight of his life this election cycle. It was just announced that his opponent raised nearly $7 million this last quarter and has close to $3 million left to spend with one month until Election Day. The Democrat Rosen is clearly the choice of socially progressive groups like Human Rights Campaign, Planned Parenthood and others.”- George Khalaf, President of Data Orbital, a political consulting and polling firm looking very closely at the race

North Dakota
“Our focus in North Dakota has clearly been on the race for U.S. Senate between Kevin Cramer and Heidi Heitkamp. Kevin is currently leading in the polls by about 10 percentage points, but multiple sources say that Heidi’s vote against the confirmation of Judge Brett Kavanaugh will most likely allow Kevin to pull even further ahead in a state that President Trump carried by 39 percentage points in 2016. Republican Kelly Armstrong’s bid to fill the U.S. House seat vacated by Cramer has also been very positive, where he holds a commanding lead of almost 20 percentage points over his Democratic rival Mac Schneider.”- Mark Jorritsma, President of Family Policy Alliance of North Dakota

“The U.S. Senate race to replace Bob Corker is the most important and closely watched statewide partisan election since 1994. Congresswoman Blackburn’s race against a former Democratic Governor has been nip and tuck, but it appears that the Judge Kavanaugh’s confirmation hearings have lit a fire under the Republican base who understand that what we just witnessed will define Washington if Chuck Schumer is put in charge of the Senate.”- David Fowler, President of Family Action Council of Tennessee

West Virginia
“Senator Joe Manchin is one of the best politicians in the U.S. Senate. His political persona is a smooth during campaigns. He must be a smooth operator to keep West Virginians thinking he’s actually a conservative Democrat. When we urge a vote for Republican Attorney General Patrick Morrisey (his opponent), our office will get occasional chastisements from sheepish Republican voters. They are the ones who can’t bring themselves to ignore NBC’s version of Manchin as the great bi-partisan hero. The race is very close with the edge to Manchin. His TV ads claiming Morrisey will take away medicine from the THIRD of our citizens on Medicaid, are effective.”- Allen Whitt, President of Family Policy Council of West Virginia

I have written extensively about how pivotal November 6th is for our state, and I will return to writing about what’s going on here in Georgia in the coming emails. However, I wanted to remind you that this is also a crucial election for our nation, and it’s vital that we all join in prayer.

One of the blessings of being a part of a national organization is having colleagues around the country that are engaged and laboring in this effort and having our team able to see this cycle from a national perspective. To support Family Policy Alliance’s national efforts in key state and federal races you can contribute HERE.

Praying for our nation,

Cole Muzio
President and Executive Director

P.S. – Every voter wants to feel prepared as they head to the polls—prepared to cast their vote for the candidate who most closely aligns with their values. Our Voter Guide for federal races helps you quickly compare candidates, choose the one who best represents your family’s values, and then head to the polls prepared.

Simply type in your address to locate the races in your district!

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