Democrats have mustered 41 votes, the number required to block cloture and keep a filibuster going against Judge Neil Gorsuch’s confirmation. We have the number 716, and President Trump, to thank for this.
If Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell backs down on his threats to use the “nuclear option” to change Senate rules and remove the filibuster from Supreme Court justice confirmation votes, we know who to blame. Besides McConnell that is.
The closest senate race in 2016 was between incumbent Republican Kelly Ayotte and Democrat Governor Maggie Hassan in New Hampshire. The race came down to 716 votes out of 737,772 cast, with $100 million spent between the two candidates. Ayotte lost her seat by half the number of votes than Hillary Clinton carried the state; it amounted to 0.09 percent.
Ayotte went on to take a seat on News Corp’s board of directors today. Hassan took over the senate seat.
Were it not for then-candidate Donald Trump’s trolling of Ayotte, she very well could have kept her seat. “We need loyal people in this country. We need fighters in this country. We don’t need weak people,” Trump told the Washington Post in August. “We have enough of them. We need fighters in this country. But Kelly Ayotte has given me zero support, and I’m doing great in New Hampshire.”
Trump lost in N.H., and so did Ayotte. Hassan has pledged to stand with her Democratic Party and uphold a filibuster. Were that seat not flipped, Democrats would have 40 votes, not enough to stop cloture, and there would be no need for McConnell to go nuclear.
The next time a Democrat is in the White House (don’t think that won’t happen), and a far-left activist judge is nominated to the Supreme Court to legislate new “rights” from Constitutional “penumbras” and “emanations” made from whole cloth, and we have no filibuster, we know who to blame.
If McConnell fails to go nuclear, and the best qualified originalist judge since the late Antonin Scalia is not confirmed, we know who to blame.
I can’t blame Kelly Ayotte. She ran an exemplary campaign. Her only mistake was voicing support for Donald Trump, thinking that possibly he would return the favor. Although he eventually endorsed her, it was a weak and limp gesture.
Trump cost Ayotte the race, and now the GOP–and the country, possibly–has to pay for those 716 votes.