Tennessee’s Democratic U.S. Senate candidate, Phil Bredesen, will continue to see the backing of a top outside money group, despite voicing his support for Brett Kavanaugh’s nomination to the Supreme Court.
Majority Forward, a nonprofit group that spends millions to get Democrats elected to the U.S. Senate, is sticking with Bredesen, even though his statement in support of the embattled appeals court judge Friday bucked the party line.
“Yes, Phil Bredesen is the only candidate who has an independent record of results for Tennessee families,” Chris Hayden, a spokesman for Majority Forward, said Friday to CNBC when asked whether the group would keep backing Bredesen in the red state. President Donald Trump won Tennessee by more than 20 points in 2016.
Majority Forward has spent just over $1.6 million in support of Bredesen and $4.1 million against his opponent, Republican Rep. Marsha Blackburn, according to the nonpartisan Center for Responsive Politics. The spokesman noted that the nonprofit’s affiliated super PAC, the Senate Majority PAC, will also move ahead with plans to back Bredesen, a former two-term Tennessee governor.
Bredesen, however, will not receive the backing of the largest Democratic super PAC, Priorities USA Action. The organization, once run by allies of 2016 presidential candidate Hillary Clinton, announced it would continue withholding support from Bredesen after he announced his backing of Kavanaugh.
“We haven’t been spending there and any option to is now off the table,” said Josh Schwerin, a spokesman for Priorities USA. He also explained that Sen. Joe Manchin, D-W.Va., would also not get the group’s support if he decides to vote yes for Kavanaugh.
After Manchin announced he would vote in support of Kavanaugh, Schwerin confirmed his group would not be backing him in 2018. But the group won’t spend any money against him, either.
“We haven’t been spending there and any option to is now off the table,” he said. “And no, we will not run ads against him.”
Manchin has almost doubled his Republican opponent West Virginia Attorney General Patrick Morrisey in the fundraising game. Manchin has raised $7.2 million while Morrisey has brought in $2.9 million.
In a statement Friday, Bredesen said that while he had reservations, he would vote to confirm Kavanaugh based on the information he has now.
“I believed that Judge Kavanaugh initially met this test, and I was prepared to say ‘yes’ to his nomination prior to Dr. Ford’s coming forward,” he said. “While the subsequent events make it a much closer call, and I am missing key pieces of information that a sitting Senator has, I’m still a ‘yes.'”
A campaign spokeswoman did not return requests for comment at the time of publication.
Bredesen and Blackburn are facing off for a seat being vacated by Republican Bob Corker, an occasional Trump critic who counts Bredesen as a friend.
A Real Clear Politics polling average shows the two candidates virtually tied.
Bredesen came under heavy fire in recent days from Blackburn’s campaign and her allies after CNBC reported that billionaire and former New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg was hosting a fundraiser for him in New York.
Blackburn responded to Bredesen’s declaration of support for Kavanaugh by arguing that it’s just a “ploy to divert attention away from his record.” She also accused his campaign of being paid for by Bloomberg and Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer, D-N.Y.
While the final vote on Kavanaugh’s confirmation is expected to take place this weekend, all eyes are on Manchin and Sen. Susan Collins, R-Maine, who had yet to make their decision as of early Friday afternoon.