JOE DONNELLY’S HEDGE

Joe Donnelly (D-IN) is a United States Senator, running for re-election this year.  And he is in a tough spot, since Indiana decisively voted for Donald Trump in 2016.  Polls show him in a toss-up race against Republican Mike Braun.

Days ago, he told the editorial board of The Times, a newspaper in Munster, Indiana, that he would be voting against Brett Kavanaugh’s appointment to the Supreme Court.

But on Friday, he told that same newspaper he was no longer opposed, but was undecided.  You can read all about it by clicking here.

Why would he do that?

Well, here, according to The Times, is how it came down:

The Hoosier Democrat announced Friday morning that in light of multiple sexual assault allegations against Kavanaugh, which Donnelly described as “disturbing and credible,” he cannot support the nomination absent a full inquiry by the FBI.

Donnelly said, “The FBI would have to talk to the people considered witnesses, depending on how these claims come out, so that we can find out as much information as possible to make better decisions.

“As it is right now, without all this information, I don’t know how I vote yes without having what I need.” 

In other words, Donnelly has gone from “no”, to “I need more information, and might be persuaded otherwise”.

So:  is this really as Senator Donnelly describes?  A simple matter of not having all the information?

Frankly, that’s a little hard to buy.  If it were true, why would he have come out in opposition before the entire confirmation process was finished?

While I, of course, don’t know for sure, I think a more plausible explanation may be that internal polls showed that a “no” vote on Brett Kavanaugh would lose him votes.  Lots of them.  Maybe enough for Mike Braun to win.

But a “well, maybe” – which makes him seem more introspective/willing to consider Kavanaugh – will appease some of those voters; maybe even keep them on his side if he ultimately votes no, on the grounds that he really did think it over.

And if that is true, does it not follow that other Democrats in Trump states – think Heidi Heitkamp in North Dakota, Joe Manchin in West Virginia, Jon Tester in Montana and Claire McCaskill in Missouri – might be in a similar situation?

Like Donnelly (until he backtracked), Ms. McCaskill and Mr. Tester have already stated they will vote against Brett Kavanaugh.  I wonder if they are regretting that decision…or that, if this ridiculous, meaningless FBI investigation of an unevidenced 36 year old hazy (or politically motivated) memory comes up dry, they might use it to “rethink” and vote in favor.

Stay tuned.  Things could get real interesting real fast.

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