POLITICS
04/19/2017 05:22 pm ET Updated Apr 20, 2017

Democratic Senator Takes Heat Back Home Over Neil Gorsuch Confirmation

Progressives are demanding that Sen. Michael Bennet (D-Colo.) explain why he helped advance Donald Trump's Supreme Court pick.
Sen. Michael Bennet (D-Colo.) talks on the phone. Is he talking to Neil Gorsuch, perhaps?
Alex Wong via Getty Images
Sen. Michael Bennet (D-Colo.) talks on the phone. Is he talking to Neil Gorsuch, perhaps?

WASHINGTON ― Sen. Michael Bennet (D-Colo.) was one of just four Democrats who voted to advance Supreme Court Justice Neil Gorsuch’s nomination in the Senate this month. Now that Bennet is back home on recess, his constituents want answers.

Progressive activists delivered petitions to Bennet’s Denver office on Wednesday, demanding that he hold a town hall to explain why he helped move President Donald Trump’s conservative court pick move forward. Bennet did not vote to confirm Gorsuch, but he did vote with Republicans to end Democrats’ filibuster of the nomination.

“You need to answer for your decision to help advance Judge Gorsuch’s nomination in the United States Senate,” reads the petition, signed by more than 4,400 Coloradans. “Hold open and in-person town-hall meetings in the Front Range.”

Here’s a picture of some of the activists meeting with Bennet’s staff after dropping off petitions. Staff members would not commit to Bennet holding any in-person town halls in the near future, according to Credo, the progressive group that launched the petition.

Unhappy progressives meet with Sen. Michael Bennet's staff.
CREDO
Unhappy progressives meet with Sen. Michael Bennet's staff.

Beyond the petition, Credo is running digital ads highlighting that Bennet hasn’t held a town hall meeting in progressive parts of the state since he introduced Gorsuch and praised him at a Senate confirmation hearing in March. (Gorsuch is from Colorado, and it’s tradition that senators introduce nominees from their state.)

The ads, which will run through the end of the week, target Colorado residents who follow Bennet on Twitter and Facebook. They feature a milk carton-style graphic suggesting that Bennet has gone missing.

Credo

Bennet spokeswoman Samantha Slater pointed to the senator’s previous comments explaining that he opposed Democrats’ filibuster of Gorsuch because it is Senate tradition to give qualified nominees an up-or-down vote.

Slater couldn’t say if Bennet will hold a town hall soon, but noted the senator held five town halls around the state in early March.

Credo political director Murshed Zaheed said Bennet owes it to voters to explain why he “collaborated with Trump’s sexist, racist regime with an authoritarian streak and no regard for the rule of law” when he introduced and praised Gorsuch at the confirmation hearing.

“Normalizing a right-wing ideologue such as Gorsuch, who will most likely rubber stamp Trump’s agenda of hate in our nation’s highest court, was Bennet’s choice to make,” Zaheed said. “But he should at least have the courage to face his constituents in person and explain why he helped confirm a Supreme Court justice who will overturn Roe v. Wade and launch other assaults on our Constitution that will hurt the people of Colorado.”

Slater later pushed back on Zaheed’s comments, saying Bennet opposed Democrats’ filibuster of Gorsuch because he worried Republicans would get rid of the filibuster rule altogether to get Gorsuch through, which they did.

“[The senator] explained throughout the confirmation process that, while he was concerned about Justice Gorsuch’s judicial record and conservative ideology, he was also concerned about losing the ability to use the filibuster,” Slater said in a follow-up email. “Now that Republicans have changed the rules, it will be harder to block future nominees who will almost certainly be far more extreme than Justice Gorsuch.”

This story has been updated to include comments from Bennet’s spokeswoman.

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