Assuming the nation moves beyond hazy recollections of groping, dick wagging and college gangbangs, the fate of Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh will rest in the hands of Senator Susan Collins (R-ME), a moderate conservative poised to "make or break Brett Kavanaugh's chance at becoming a Supreme Court justice," reports The Hill.
In particular, several Senate colleagues of Collins' are waiting for her to announce her stance on Kavanaugh before announcing their own positions - while Senate Democratic leader Chuck Schumer (NY) has asked that centrists within his caucus "keep their powder dry on Kavanaugh" until they know where Republicans stand.
Senate Republican aides think that Sen. Lisa Murkowski (R-Alaska) will likely vote the same way as Collins, who thus far has played a more vocal role in the debate over Kavanaugh. -The Hill
"We’re talking about a jury of one: Susan Collins," said a senior GOP aide to The Hill, who gave Collins a "51 percent chance" of voting for Kavaugh. The aide added: "When you look at Murkowski and even Flake, no one lets Collins get to the left of them, so she’s going to be the lodestar here."
Democrats are in agreement that if Collins flips, Kavanaugh can be defeated.
“If Collins were to oppose him then that would be the kiss of death,” said Brian Fallon, a former Senate Democratic leadership aide and executive director of Demand Justice, which has helped lead liberal opposition to Kavanaugh. -The Hill
Collins was the target of an ad campaign created by three liberal activists in Maine, who established a crowdfunding campaign which raised $1.3 million to "fund her future opponent" unless she votes no on Kavanaugh.
GOP Senators, meanwhile, will need to take a position if Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) upholds his Monday promise to hold an up-or-down vote on the floor.
Over her 22-year Senate career, Collins has built a reputation as a fair-minded, practical swing vote who is willing to stand up to Republican leadership and presidents from her own party.
She voted against former President Clinton’s impeachment in 1999, helped craft a compromise to get past a major partisan impasse over circuit court nominees in 2005, was a key player in sinking a proposal to repeal ObamaCare last year and has consistently criticized President Trump for controversial statements since he took office.
She also voted against Betsy DeVos and Scott Pruitt, Trump’s controversial picks to head the Department of Education and the Environmental Protection Agency, respectively.
One of her first legislative accomplishments in the Senate decades ago was to co-sponsor an amendment with Sen. Dick Durbin (D-Ill.) to repeal a $50 billion tax break for the tobacco industry.
Kavanaugh will have virtually no chance at confirmation if Collins says she believes Christine Blasey Ford’s allegation that he sexually assaulted her at a high school party in 1982, according to people on both sides of the partisan Supreme Court fight. -The Hill
If Collins supports Kavanaugh, on the other hand, it will be near impossible for Democrats to stop his ascension to the Supreme Court. "I think Collins will vote with us. Kavanaugh gave her the right answer on Roe v. Wade," said a female Republican senator who requested anonymity from The Hill.
On Monday, progressives put pressure on Collins to vote against Kavanaugh - with 46 protesters arrested outside of her office on Capitol Hill.
Also on Monday, Collins said that Senate investigators should reach out to a second woman accusing Kavanaugh of exposing himself to her during a drunken college party.
That said, Collins did not call for an FBI investigation into accuser Christine Blasey Ford's accusation that Kavanaugh sexually assaulted her at a high school gathering.
"Based on what she was saying last week, there was nobody I know in Maine that thought she was going to do anything to stop or delay progress on the confirmation of Kavanaugh," said Bowdoin College Poli Sci professor, Janet Martin. "Not every woman has come out and been in support of the ‘Me Too’ movement or thinks there really is an issue here."