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All eyes fall to Murkowski, a crucial Republican swing vote for Kavanaugh in Senate

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A deeply divided Senate pushed Brett Kavanaugh’s Supreme Court nomination past a key procedural hurdle Friday, setting up a likely final showdown this weekend. (Oct. 5)
AP

The gaze of a nation fell onto Alaska’s Sen. Lisa Murkowski as the Senate prepares to begin its final debate on judge Brett Kavanaugh’s nomination to the Supreme Court.

Murkowski on Friday morning was the only Republican to vote against a procedural move advancing Kavanaugh’s nomination, setting up a showdown that may have to be broken by Vice President Mike Pence. Alaska’s other senator, Dan Sullivan, voted in favor of the measure, which passed 51-49.

Murkowski told reporters she decided to oppose the procedural measure as she walked to the Senate chamber minutes before the vote.

“I believe that Brett Kavanaugh is a good man, I believe he is a good man. But it just may be that in my view he’s not the right man for the court at this time,” she said Friday after the vote. “This has truly been the most difficult evaluation of a decision that I’ve ever had to make and I’ve made some interesting ones in my political career.”

She added: “I value and respect where my colleagues have come down from and their support for the judge I also think that we’re at a place where we need to be thinking again about the credibility of the institutions.”

Murkowski will speak on the floor later Friday more about her decision after sitting stone-faced at her the Senate floor desk for much of the vote. At one point during the vote, fellow Republican Sen. Susan Collins of Maine leaned in and the two of them chatted. Collins put her right hand on Murkowski’s arm rest.

Murowski is facing intense pressure back home to oppose Kavanaugh. The Alaska Federation of Natives, a critical group that backed Murkowski in her 2010 re-election bid, “strongly” opposed Kavanaugh’s bid. The group came out in opposition in early September “because of, among other things, his views on the rights of Native peoples.” Murkowski told CNN she spoke to Kavanaugh about the group’s concerns. The state’s independent governor has also opposed Kavanaugh’s nomination, in part because of concern that he would rule against Native rights.

Democratic Sen. Kamala Harris of California urged voters to keep the pressure on:  “There are now 30 hours until a final vote on Judge Kavanaugh’s nomination to the Supreme Court. Don’t stop calling your senators and telling them to vote NO. Keep up the fight.”

Murkowski has faced the consequences of her votes before: In 2010, she lost the Republican primary to a Tea Party challenger but won a write-in campaign to keep her seat.

More: Divided U.S. Senate votes to advance Brett Kavanaugh nomination to Supreme Court; final vote unclear

More: ‘We’re just really trying to keep up a presence here;’ Kavanaugh protesters persist despite uphill battle

More: Sen. Jeff Flake says he plans to vote yes on Kavanaugh unless something big changes

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