Sen. Thune: Republicans ‘Feel Good’ About Kavanaugh Vote, But ‘It’s Never Over Until It’s Over’

By Emily Ward | October 5, 2018 | 5:01pm EDT
Sen. John Thune (R-S.D.)

( -- “We’ve felt pretty good for the past few days,” Sen. John Thune (R-S.D.) said on Friday at the U.S. Capitol, referring to whether Senate Republicans have enough votes to confirm U.S. Supreme Court nominee Judge Brett Kavanaugh.

“But it’s not, it’s never over until it’s over,” he added.

As of Friday afternoon, it looked like Senate Republicans had 51 votes in favor vs. 49 against. Swing voters Susan Collins (R-Me.) and Jeff Flake (R-Ariz.) said they would support Kavanaugh, as did Democrat Sen. Joe Mancin (W.Va.).

If confirmed in the final vote on Saturday, Oct. 6, Judge Kavanaugh would fill the seat vacated by retired Justice Anthony Kennedy. Debate surrounding his nomination has been particularly heated since California Prof. Christine Blasey Ford alleged that the judge sexually assaulted her at a party when the two were in high school some 36 years ago.

Votes in favor of and against Judge Kavanaugh are generally split along party lines, with most Senate Republicans supporting the judge and most Senate Democrats opposing him.

Sen. Lisa Murkowski (R-Ala.), however, is a notable exception. She has announced that she will not vote for Kavanaugh’s confirmation to the court.

Sen. Susan Collins (R-Me.)  (YouTube)

When asked by a reporter about “intense conversations” on the Senate floor with Sen. Murkowski, Sen. Thune said Republicans might “need her.”

“I think it was how people, people just wanted to let them know that we appreciated her, and, you know, that there’s going to be another vote coming soon and we’re going to need her,” he said.

“And I think people kind of wanted to hear, hear her thought process a little bit, too,” he added.

Sen. Thune further said he “would be surprised” if Sen. Murkowski changed her mind.

“I would be, I’d be surprised, but that would be great if she would. I’d be all for that,” he said.

Sen. Jeff Flake (R-Ariz.), who delayed the confirmation vote in favor of obtaining an FBI investigation into Ford’s allegation, is likely to vote “yes” on Judge Kavanaugh’s confirmation.

Sen. Joe Mancin (D-W.Va.)  (YouTube)

When asked whether U.S. Vice President Mike Pence would be available to help break a tie if necessary, Sen. Thune replied, “I suspect he’s ready” and “on call.”

He repeated that Republicans “feel good” about the vote, but indicated that there would be no guarantee of any outcome until “every senator” voted.

“Well, we feel, like I said, we feel good about it, but every, every senator votes their conscience, their conscience and casts their own vote and so we’ll, we’ll let them do that and see how it comes out tomorrow,” Sen. Thune said.

“But I think today was a pretty good indication of where folks are,” he added.

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