Republicans have longed to get their hands on one or both of Michigan’s federal senatorial seats, now held by Democrats Debbie Stabenow and Gary Peters. Their next chance comes in 2018, when Stabenow faces re-election.
Republicans are wasting no time. While there are no clear front-runners among possible Republican opponents for Stabenow (have any even declared they’re running?) the GOP has already launched its first ad against her.
It’s easy to see the Republican logic. Republicans won the presidential ticket in November, so they smell blood in the water. If it happened once, they believe Michigan will vote again for a statewide Republican candidate, this time for the Senate.
But Republicans may also be underestimating the breadth and depth of Democratic activism that has been shaken awake by the events of the past few months. Progressives are awake like they haven’t been in years, and they won’t let Republicans take this seat without a fight.
The anti-Stabenow ad is paid for by the National Republican Senatorial Committee, whose aim is to increase the number of Republicans in the U.S. Senate. It urges people to call Sen. Stabenow to tell her to vote for U.S. Supreme Court nominee Neil Gorsuch, rather than going along with a potential filibuster. It accuses Stabenow of putting “party ahead of country” if she doesn’t. It tries to use Stabenow’s own words against her, replaying comments she made within the past year.
Funny thing is, this is exactly what Republicans did for the past year, as former-President Obama’s nominee, Merrick Garland, waited for months without even getting a hearing. Republicans stalled in order to deny Obama and Democrats a SCOTUS judge. And now, Republicans are livid that the same might be done to them.
Whether or not it is best for Democrats to deny any Trump Supreme Court nominee is the best course of action, or whether it’s best to accept him and oppose future nominees, is still the matter of debate. Proponents of stonewalling say that if Republicans robbed Democrats of a justice, then Democrats should do the same; turnabout is fair play. Opponents warn that trying this will push Republicans to pass a rule change eliminating a filibuster, thereby taking a powerful tool away from the Democrats.
But whichever way that debate goes, two things are clear:
- Republicans know the Gorsuch nomination is in deep trouble, and
- They’ve got their eye on Sen. Stabenow’s seat in 2018.