The Democrat trick behind Senator Murkowski’s ‘present’ vote

Under the cover of doing a favor for Senator Steve Daines, Senator Lisa Murkowski actually helped the Democrats more.

Yesterday the Senate confirmed Brett Kavanaugh as the 114th Justice of the Supreme Court.  The final tally was 50 to 48, with 99 Senators voting to achieve that outcome.

The mathematics are odd because Lisa Murkowski (R-AK) switched her “nay” vote to “present.” She says she did this to accommodate her colleague Senator Steve Daines (R-MT) who was attending his daughter’s wedding and unable to register his vote in favor of the nomination.

Really? If Murkowski had voted “nay,” the result would have been 50-49. Kavanaugh still would have won. Her voting “present” had no effect on the outcome. Do you suppose she didn’t think of this? Or might she have something else in mind?

CNN screen grab

Let’s ask “Cui bono?” Who benefits? Murkowski’s charade serves two beneficiaries and neither of them is Republican. The first winner is Senator Joe Manchin, because it enabled him to vote for the nominee without being the deciding vote.

Had Murkowski voted “nay” as she originally announced, Manchin’s “aye” would have broken a 49-49 tie. He would have been Kavanaugh’s fiftieth and deciding vote, and many of his Democrat supporters in West Virginia would never have forgiven him. Bad news for his re-election in November. On the other hand, if Manchin had voted against Kavanaugh, he’d likely have lost many of his Trump supporters. Again, bad for re-election.

Manchin had to thread an exceedingly small needle. To maximize his election prospects, he had to vote for Kavanaugh, but only in way that didn’t make a difference to the final result. Senator Lisa Murkowski made that possible.

Senate Democrats, the second beneficiaries of this charade, may now retain a seat that otherwise might have been lost. Never have they been so happy to see one of their own support the opposition.

Alaska voters may be properly puzzled by Murkowski’s decision to help Manchin with his Kavanaugh dilemma. President Trump thinks she’s ruined her re-election prospects. So does Sarah Palin. She tweeted, “I can see 2022 from my house.”

If you experience technical problems, please write to