U.S. Senate Democratic candidate Phil Bredesen of Tennessee, if he so chose, could stop all the guessing and announce any time whether he supports U.S. Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh.
But he likely won’t comment until and if he thinks it safe. After all, he can’t displease his liberal base, said John Ryder, a Memphis attorney who also chairs the Republican National Lawyers Association.
Republican President Donald Trump nominated Kavanaugh.
“I think he (Bredesen) will wait until it’s safe to say he is for Kavanaugh because he has to get a significant number of Republican votes to have any chance of winning this election,” Ryder told The Tennessee Star.
“Saying he would vote for Kavanaugh is one way to do that, but if he says that too early then he risks alienating his liberal activist base. Bredesen will wait until some other sitting Democratic senator announces for Kavanaugh. That makes it safe for Bredesen to do that without totally offending his base, and it enables him to look moderate to the Republicans he needs to convince.”
Thus far, Bredesen and his campaign staff have yet to return The Star’s repeated requests for comment.
Ryder said if Bredesen was in the U.S. Senate now he would toe the line with the Democrats on the Senate Judiciary Committee.
“It would be very difficult for a Democratic senator to break ranks,” Ryder said.
Bredesen portrays himself as a political moderate, especially while he was Tennessee’s governor. Bredesen says he worked well with Republicans.
That was 10 years ago.
“You’re talking about an era where you had pro-business, blue dog Democrats. You had Democrats who could and would work with Republicans,” Ryder said.
“What you are seeing across the country is Democrats who are of a moderate cast being driven out of their party by the more leftist elements in the Democratic Party. It is becoming harder and harder to occupy that position.”
In a column last week for The Memphis Commercial Appeal, Ryder said many Tennessee voters went for Trump in 2016. They worried Trump’s opponent, Hillary Clinton, would pick liberal activist judges for the U.S. Supreme Court — instead of people who try to interpret what’s in the U.S. Constitution.
“Regardless of doubts they may have had about Trump, they voted for him because of the power of the president to nominate a conservative justice to fill that vacancy,” Ryder wrote.
“The president nominates, but the Senate consents, or doesn’t. As a result, control of the Senate is crucial to Supreme Court nominations, and Tennessee’s Senate race is crucial.”
Bredesen’s opponent, Republican Marsha Blackburn, said she supports Kavanaugh.
“Yet, the Republican voters Bredesen needs favor confirmation (of Kavanaugh),” Ryder said in the piece.
“What would he do in the Senate? The Democratic minority has generally held solid against Kavanaugh, as they have against many Trump nominees.”
Some of Bredesen’s supporters told The Star last month that to win he must portray himself as a moderate — even though he’s really a liberal.
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