Democratic Senate candidate Mark Kelly could have a chance to vote for President Trump’s Supreme Court nominee if he defeated Arizona Sen. Martha McSally on Nov. 3.
As Kelly and McSally face a special election to fill the remainder of late Senator John McCain’s term, Kelly may not have to wait until January to go to Washington.
He could be sworn in as soon as November 30, when state election results are expected to be covered, the Republic of Arizona reports, citing the agreement of two-party election attorneys.
“That would have major consequences,” said Jessica Taylor, Senate and governor-in-chief of the Cook report, about Kelly̵
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Kelly, a retired astronaut, has consistently tuned in better than the incumbent McSally, who is considered the Republican senator most at risk of losing in November.
Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell said he is planning a vote on Trump’s candidate. Provided that it will take time to vet his choice and complete a confirmation procedure, a vote on the floor may take place after the November election during the lame duck session.
Republicans currently control 53 seats in the Senate. McConnell can afford to lose no more than three senators in the vote, provided Vice President Pence steps in to break the tie, which would be unprecedented for a Supreme Court justice nomination.
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If McSally loses and Kelly is present at the vote, McConnell’s margins will be even more difficult. That would mean McConnell could only afford to lose two Republicans.
Already Senator Lisa Murkowski, R-Alaska, who was against justice Brett Kavanaugh’s nomination, said before Ginsburg’s death that she would not vote to confirm a new justice so close to an election. And on Saturday, Sen. Susan Collins, R-Maine, said she is opposed to voting for the nominee until after the election.
“To be fair to the American people who either elect the president again or elect a new one, the decision on a life-long appointment to the Supreme Court must be made by the president who is elected on November 3,” Collins said.
Provided Democrats are united against Trump’s election, a third dismissal could sink Trump’s candidate in a lame duck vote.
McSally said she wants to vote for Trump’s candidate, signaling that she is willing to embrace this issue in her re-election campaign and may want to increase enthusiasm among the GOP base.
Kelly tweeted her condolences on Ginsburg’s death, but has not spoken publicly about the prospect of potentially playing an important role in determining her successor.
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“Justice Ginsburg dedicated his life to making our country more just,” Kelly wrote. “She fought cancer with the same savagery that she fought for civil rights, leaving a legacy that affected women’s rights and equal protection under the law – she will continue to be a role model for so many.”