February 24, 2016

Obama could do worse than Brian Sandoval for SCOTUS

Brian Sandoval, come on down!
That's the latest official rumor, folks. Nevada Gov. Brian Sandoval, a Republican, for Nino Scalia's seat.

Of course, the typical Republican governor would be a problem.

But, Sandoval? Yes. Per an old Nate Silver piece, he's the second-most-liberal GOP governor, and how Chris Christie ranked more liberal, I don't know.

Politico's got the goods on how he got this, in a piece calling him "Nevada's Party Pooper."

Here's the nut graf:
The abortion rights governor has embraced Obamacare; lauded immigration reform and DREAMers; fiercely championed renewable energy; and taken lesser known actions on police body cameras, driver’s licenses for undocumented aliens and multiple moves to squelch Republican-led tort reform.

Add in that he has signed off on tax increases for education, and he's no worse than the more squishy of Dems. Some other stuff shows that he's not great on unions, necessarily, and we don't know his stance on Citizens United, but, again, it would be hard to go wrong. Add in that he's a Hispanic, is personally being championed by Harry Reid, who can do equal battle with Mitch McConnell on use of Senate rules as a bludgeon, and, it's hard to argue against the idea that this is Obama's best realistic chance.

The icing on the cake? A former federal judge, appointed by Shrub Bush, who reportedly still has a sharp judicial mindset. Plus, the Nevada GOP would like to boot him out of office, per the Politico piece, and might at this moment be joining Harry Reid in talking to Mitch McConnell, for all we know. 

Ballotpedia adds that he made medical marijuana a real deal in Nevada, too, going beyond home-grow to legal medical dispensaries.

Oh, and he's refused to kowtow to big utilities, Wikipedia notes, by not putting a net metering cap on solar feed-ins; at the same time, smaller solar rooftop companies don't like that feed-ins are paid at the wholesale, not retail rate, claiming it's a giveaway to Warren Buffett. On the other hand, per greater sage grouse protection, he's not an ardent environmentalist overall, it seems. Jon Ralston's report of Sandoval's comments about Obama's creation of Basin and Range National Monument show him a squish at best.

That said, the Wikipedia link also describes him as seemingly pragmatic on criminal justice issues. And a outrightly pro-environment GOP governor in the West is even less likely than a pro-choice one.

Other issues? OnTheIssues notes that he's pretty hardcore on the Second Amendment and originally opposed Obamacare, so he's not quite as rosy as Dear Leader will paint him, should we get to that point. And, he has favored some sort of voter ID. Nor is he perfect on union issues, and with the Supremes facing an issue on teacher organizing, that's an issue. (That said, pro "free"-trade national Dems have little room to bitch about a potential justice's union stance, you know what I mean?)

And, he's relatively young, so he'd be on there for a while.

And, per President Obama's Tuesday guest piece on SCOTUSblog, he seemingly kicks all the presidential tires that he mentions. Of course, the piece is little more than platitudinous.

He's got other good, or at least interesting, things. Given he's in Nevada, I Googled his name plus "Cliven Bundy." While he doesn't support the Sagebrush Rebellion that I can tell, he does support the First Amendment over "cattle pens" for protestors. Unfortunately, at the time, many "liberal" Gnu Media spun this into the idea that Sandoval actually supported Bundy. Now, he may have been wrong on how much of a buffer zone BLM needed to do its duty, but given the degree the feds have used the "cattle pens" to restrict free speech, including and especially protestors of all political stripes, I'm not linking to any of the Gnu Media.

I'm sure he's got some issues where he less than fully aligns with all Democratic ideals; if he didn't, he wouldn't run as a Republican. But, as I said above ...

And, does he want it? He did leave the federal bench, albeit at the district level, not the appellate one, to run for governor.  And, he passed on a chance to possibly beat Reid for Senate to pursue the governor's chair instead. Of course the Supremes is a whole different kettle of fish, especially if — above all, his signing into law tax increases — he realizes his national Republican elective future is slim and none.

Finally, the $64 question from Dear Leader's POV: What's it like as strategery?

I think Mitch the Turtle probably has firm control of somewhere between 35-45 Senators at this time. If a Sandoval got to a Judiciary Committee hearing, those numbers could slip. From Obama's point of view, they need to fall to 39, unless Reid can find a way to force an "old-fashioned" actual talking filibuster.

For Senate Dems not named Harry Reid, the question is: Assuming Hillary Clinton is nominated, in your guts of guts, how confident do you feel that she'll be elected? And, if she is, how confident do you feel that enough Senate seats will change hands to let her nominate somebody a lot more "liberal" than Sandoval?

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