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State GOP sees SCOTUS pick as campaign issue

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Republican Party of Minnesota chairwoman Jennifer Carnahan, along with U>S. Senate candidate Jim Newberger, left, and state attorney general candidate Doug Wardlow, called on Democrats to back President Trump's supreme court nominee. Tim Pugmire|MPR News

Minnesota Republicans are pressing the state’s two Democratic U.S. Senators, Amy Klobuchar and Tina Smith, to back President Trump’s latest Supreme Court pick.

With both those Senate seats on the ballot this year, GOP leaders say they plan to make the confirmation of Brett Kavanaugh to the nation’s highest court a major campaign issue in Minnesota.

State Republican chair Jennifer Carnahan praised Kavanaugh in a news conference Tuesday as an experienced judge who will uphold the Constitution with an open-minded approach. Carnahan said resistance to the nomination from Democrats could help Republican candidates this fall.

“If the Senate Democrats out of Minnesota, Sen. Klobuchar and Sen. Smith, stand in the way of this and obstruct and play partisan politics and don’t do what’s in the best interest of the country, I think this will negatively impact as they head into the primary and the general election in November.”

Jim Newberger, the GOP-endorsed candidate challenging Klobuchar, also criticized Democrats for not supporting the president’s nominee. He accused them of using the abortion issue and the possibility of the court overturning Roe v. Wade for political gain.

“Abortion certainly seems to be a litmus test for the left, and they’re using this to fan the flames to make more money for their campaigns,” Newberger said.

Klobuchar responded to the nomination on Twitter saying she has “serious concerns” about Kavanaugh, including his views on health care and separation of power issues. She also said he “went out of his way to dissent against net neutrality.”

Prior to the announcement, Klobuchar said in an email to supporters that the Senate should reject “any ideological candidate.”

Smith expressed disappointment with the nomination.

“I had hoped that the president would appoint a consensus justice, a person ready to protect the rights of all Americans over special interests and groups driven by political ideology,” Smith said. “But make no mistake, Judge Kavanaugh will not be that justice.”