Subscribe for 99¢
Supreme Court Kavanaugh

Sen. Claire McCaskill, D-Mo., walks to the Senate as reporters ask questions about Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh on Capitol Hill in Washington, Tuesday, Sept. 18, 2018. (AP Photo/J. Scott Applewhite)

Updated at 7:20 with further comments from Missouri Attorney General Josh Hawley

WASHINGTON • Sen. Claire McCaskill will vote “no” on the confirmation of Brett Kavanaugh for the Supreme Court.

She said her decision was not based on the 36-year-old sexual assault allegations leveled against Kavanaugh by California college professor Christine Blasey Ford. McCaskill, a Missouri Democrat in a tough re-election fight, said her call was based primarily on what she said was Kavanaugh’s position that seemed to favor the survival of “dark money” — large and often secret donations — in politics.

“It is his allegiance to the position that unlimited donations and dark anonymous money, from even foreign interests, should be allowed to swamp the voices of individuals that has been the determining factor in my decision to vote no on his nomination,” McCaskill said in a statement issued by her office.

Her opponent, Republican U.S. Senate candidate Josh Hawley, has said he would vote for Kavanaugh. Hawley has charged that a McCaskill “no” would belie her claims she was a moderate willing to cross political aisles.

“No surprise here,” Hawley tweeted. McCaskill “always comes home to the party line in the end. Now 0-6 on Supreme Court nominees. Hasn’t heard a thing voters told her. Just another Washington liberal.”

That 0-6 reference was to the fact that McCaskill has voted with Democrats for the first five Supreme Court nominees during her 12-year tenure in the Senate, and Kavanaugh would make it six.

On Wednesday, Hawley said that Democrats had staged an “ambush” on Kavanaugh with the sex assault allegations, and that their calls for more investigations and hearings is “making a mockery of this process.”

But McCaskill said in her statement that she had decided to vote no aside from those allegations.

“While the recent allegations against him are troubling and deserve a thorough and fair examination by the Senate Judiciary Committee, my decision is not based on those allegations but rather on his positions on several key issues, most importantly the avalanche of dark, anonymous money that is crushing our democracy,” her statement said.

Previously, she had tried to argue that there was no political advantage in Missouri to either vote on Kavanaugh.

A yes would have upset the liberal base of her party, many of whom had been contacting her office or directing messages at it on social media.

A “no” vote now opens her up to attacks that, despite her claims to bipartisanship, McCaskill votes with Democrats on big-ticket issues like a Supreme Court nominee. Last year, she voted no on Trump’s first nominee, Neil Gorsuch.

Here are excerpts from her statement on Kavanaugh:

“He has revealed his bias against limits on campaign donations which places him completely out of the mainstream of this nation. He wrote, ‘And I have heard very few people say that limits on contributions to candidates are unconstitutional although I for one tend to think those limits have some constitutional problems.

“Going even further, Judge Kavanaugh will give free reign (sic) to anonymous donors and foreign governments through their citizens to spend money to interfere and influence our elections with so-called ‘issue ads.’ These ‘issue ads’ are now flooding the airways in this nation to directly influence election outcomes, drowning the concept of individuals having the strongest voice in our democracy.”

Some leading Democrats are urging donors to give to McCaskill’s campaign based on her decision. One is former Barack Obama administration official and Hillary Clinton campaign spokesman Brian Fallon.

“We should not forget to stand with the Democrats in tough races who show the guts to do the right thing. Support Claire McCaskill here,” Fallon wrote and linked to a site where donors could contribute.

The Missouri Republican Party also sent a fundraising email citing McCaskill’s vote. It urged donors “to pitch in to stop Claire’s obstruction.”

Hawley vs. McCaskill: Coverage of the 2018 Senate race

Post-Dispatch coverage of the 2018 race for Missouri's U.S. Senate seat.

Political Fix e-newsletter

* I understand and agree that registration on or use of this site constitutes agreement to its user agreement and privacy policy.