Flailing Ayotte Wants It Both Ways on SCOTUS Nominee Garland

Living in Boston, one follows New Hampshire politics almost by osmosis. Overlapping media markets mean I see every New Hampshire political commercial there is. This year, Granite Staters are electing (or reelecting) themselves a United States Senator. In what could be the starkest example of political repercussions from Republican Senate leadership obstruction, Sen. Kelly Ayotte is in trouble. The senator once mentioned as a vice presidential candidate could fall in large part because her party refuses to fulfill its constitutional responsibility to “advise and consent” on a US Supreme Court (SCOTUS) nominee. Ayotte is just one of several.

If it is possible, the Ayotte campaign has made shirking her constitutional responsibility even worse. After first refusing to meet with or hold a hearing on the SCOTUS nominee Merrick Garland, she now says she will meet with him but will not support holding a hearing on him. She is trying to have it both ways and is now just duplicitous.

GOP US Sen. Kelly Ayotte (l) and New Hampshire Gov. Maggie Hassan
GOP US Sen. Kelly Ayotte (l) and New Hampshire Gov. Maggie Hassan

This year’s New Hampshire senatorial race was always going to be a feisty, close affair. The sitting governor, Maggie Hassan, is very popular and was going to give Ayotte a run for her (substantial) money. A poll last month shows the incumbent Ayotte ahead of Hassan 45 percent to 41 percent. But Hassan also has a higher favorable rate than Ayotte. A significant amount of voters has not made up their minds.

There have been cracks in the wall blocking Garland from getting a hearing in the Senate. Moderate Republican Susan Collins of Maine and Mark Kirk of Illinois want action on Garland.

Kansas Republican Jerry Moran has made a complete mess of things. First he weighed in with, “I would rather have you [his constituents] complaining to me that I voted wrong on nominating somebody than saying I’m not doing my job.” It didn’t take him long at all before he threw that position overboard and now says SCOTUS hearings are not necessary. Ok, so we are back to him not doing his job.

Probably the dumbest move on the issue has been the case of incumbent Republican US Senator Ron Johnson of Wisconsin. He is locked in close battle with former Sen. Russ Feingold, a nationally known Democrat. Johnson made the mistake of coming right out and saying that if it was Mitt Romney winding down his second term, a GOP-controlled Senate would indeed take up his nominee.