One of the top Democratic aligned super PACs says it will no longer consider helping Democratic candidate Phil Bredesen in Tennessee’s Senate race after Bredesen announced his support for Judge Brett Kavanaugh’s confirmation to the Supreme Court.
The group, Priorities USA Action, also said it would steer clear of Democratic Sen. Joe Manchin’s reelection fight in West Virginia should he vote to confirm Kavanaugh on final passage this Saturday. On Friday, Manchin was the sole Democrat to vote to proceed with the nomination.
The threats underscore the heightened stakes of the Kavanaugh confirmation fight and the degree to which the Democratic Party’s entire apparatus has come to view Donald Trump’s nominee as a make-or-break issue for any candidate running for office.
Bredesen is caught in a tight contest with Rep. Marsha Blackburn (R-TN) to replace the retiring Senator Bob Corker (R-TN). For days, he wavered on whether or not he would support President Donald Trump’s nominee for the Supreme Court. But as the Senate took its first vote on Kavanaugh’s nomination, the former Tennessee governor announced that he would have voted yes.
In response to Bredesen’s remarks, Priorities USA, which has already spent $13 million in an effort to boost Democratic midterm candidates, said it would stay away from helping him with his race. The group had not spent money in Tennessee to date. But a top official said it had considered spending for Bredesen in the final month of the campaign. That changed with Bredesen’s statement on Friday.
“We haven't been spending there and any option to is now off the table,” said Josh Scherwin, a spokesman for the group. Schwerin added that Priorities would also stay out of West Virginia’s crucial contest in the home stretch if Manchin votes to confirm Kavanaugh.
Bredesen’s campaign did not return a request for comment. The lack of help from Priorities USA won’t have much of a practical impact, in part because other Democratic-affiliated political outfits are heavily invested in the race. Majority Forward, a Democratic dark money group, has spent nearly $6.5 million backing Bredesen and attacking Blackburn. Bredesen has also received some air cover from a PAC affiliated with the United Steelworkers union.
Other embattled swing state Democrats have opted to back Kavanaugh in the face of a potential voter backlash. Sens. Heidi Heitkamp of North Dakota and Joe Donnelly of Indiana, two of the most vulnerable Democrats up for reelection next month, both voted against advancing the nomination on Friday.