Look no further than the reaction to Sen. Jerry Moran’s (R-Kan.) break with party leadership last week — he said the Senate should take up Garland’s nomination — to see how important it is to the base not to fill Antonin Scalia’s vacant seat this year. The conservative Judicial Crisis Network vowed a “robust” campaign against Moran to change his mind. The Tea Party Patriots threatened to back a primary challenger against the first-term senator.
It’s easy enough to imagine the entire Senate GOP getting the same treatment.
The JCN has already spent $4 million on ads, both bucking up McConnell and Senate Judiciary Chairman Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa) and going after Democrats from red states. The deep-pocketed group says it has the resources to keep it up as long as needed.
Any Republican who even theoretically supports Garland getting a vote is risking his or her political career. The substantive differences between Garland and a theoretically different Clinton nominee is just not likely to large enough for the vast majority of Republican senators to risk that, and with the Senate leadership strongly opposed trying to get Garland a vote will be futile anyway. It is Not. Happening.