Roll Call: Latest News on Capitol Hill, Congress, Politics and Elections
October 7, 2015

Democrats Face Perils of Controversial Nominees in ‘Post-Nuclear’ Senate

Not even Vice President Joseph R. Biden Jr. could convince an in-cycle Senate Democrat from his home state to switch his vote and support embattled Department of Justice nominee Debo P. Adegbile.

In the view of Democratic optimists, Biden had made a rare and impromptu appearance at the Capitol on Wednesday to cast a potential tie-breaking vote for Adegbile. But in reality, Biden served as the last-ditch salesman from the administration, futilely chatting up members such as Sen. Chris Coons, D-Del., inside the Senate chamber. Coons was one of seven Democrats to join Republicans to block Adegbile from being the next  assistant attorney general for the Civil Rights Division of the DOJ.

The scene on the floor underscored a new political reality for Senate Democrats. In a “post-nuclear option” world where up-and-down votes now reign, Democrats often will carry the full burden of filling administration posts — and the Republicans will not be afraid to make political gold from tenuous straw to do it.

“This is an embarrassment for President Obama and the Democrats who thought it was a good idea to nominate a convicted cop-killer’s most ardent defender to head a DOJ Department and failed. Vulnerable Democrats running in 2014 just voted to confirm a radical nominee whose positions on civil rights, religious liberty, voting rights and the second amendment are far outside the mainstream,” Republican National Committee Chairman Reince Priebus said in a statement after the vote.

Of the Democrats who opposed the Adegbile nomination, three — Coons, Mark Pryor of Arkansas and John Walsh of Montana — are on the ballot this fall. The others either had regional ties to the controversy dogging Adegbile or are from red states. Sens. Bob Casey, D-Pa. voted against cloture, as did Democrats Heidi Heitkamp of North Dakota, Joe Donnelly of Indiana and Joe Manchin III of West Virginia.

The overarching reason for the Democratic defections appeared to be fear of political retribution in the form of attack ads that could have come their way, pegged to the narrative that Adegbile advocated on behalf of an “extremist cop killer.” Those exact words were used by McConnell as he opened the floor earlier in the day, stating his opposition to the nominee and capping a backlash that was largely pushed by Pennsylvania Republican Patrick J. Toomey.

Adegbile’s nomination was the most controversial to hit the Senate floor since Majority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nev., led his party to change the chamber’s filibuster rules, requiring only a simple majority for many administration nominees. Wednesday’s vote demonstrated the political risk in such a maneuver more clearly than any other roll call tally.

Adegbile was the head of the NAACP Legal Defense Fund in 2011, when the group provided legal representation to Mumia Abu-Jamal. His death sentence for killing a Philadelphia police officer in 1982 was reduced to life without parole.

Democrats were put in a political box, stuck between potential negative ads and supporting a nominee many believed was qualified for the post. Coons said in a statement the vote was “one of the most difficult” he has cast.

Democrats fled the vote Wednesday, trying to evade reporters asking why they voted “yes” or “no.” Later, after their weekly lunch, many of the politically vulnerable senators, regardless of how they voted, snuck out back doors and corridors to avoid waiting reporters.

“I think he’s well-qualified,” Sen. Jeanne Shaheen said of Adegbile as she rushed into an elevator. The New Hampshire Democrat is up for re-election this cycle.

The New Hampshire Republican Party immediately released a statement attacking Shaheen for her vote, using it to tie her voting record to the president’s agenda. Former Massachusetts Republican Sen. Scott P. Brown, who is mulling a run in the Granite State, tweeted after the vote: “Dems’ support 4 Debo Adegbile sends wrong message 2 law enforcement everywhere, those Sens voting 4 confirmation have some explaining to do.”

Though such a vote is unlikely to be the deciding factor in any major Senate race, the internal politics revealed by Wednesday’s vote are even more significant. McConnell, in speaking with reporters later in the day, used the vote to attack Democrats generally and to call for a return to the old filibuster system.

“I know there was a temptation here, obviously, on [President Barack Obama’s] part to send this nominee up. But he was too difficult for even seven Democrats to swallow,” said McConnell, whose top political operatives touted his vote. “We need to get the Senate back to normal. As you know, most of the nominees we’re voting on these days would have been confirmed last December, probably on a voice vote, many of them, but for the decision of the majority to run roughshod over the minority. So you could argue they have not gained a whole lot by establishing this unfortunate precedent.”

McConnell’s position represents the majority, if not the entirety, of his caucus. But Democrats still see it differently.

Senate Majority Whip Richard J. Durbin, D-Ill., said that he has no regrets about Democrats easing the nominations process last November.

“The fact that we get to a vote is significant,” Durbin said. “What would have happened to this man under the old days? He would have sat on the calendar for two years and nothing would have happened to him. Well, I don’t like the outcome at all, but there was a vote.”

The No. 2 Senate Democrat argued that Republicans had shifted the level of scrutiny for nominees who have legal backgrounds and have tried the sorts of cases held against Adegbile.

“He was eminently well-qualified and the argument made by Republicans against him was shockingly, embarrassingly inconsistent with the position they have taken with nominees like John Roberts,” Durbin said, before conceding there also was a threat of retaliation from law enforcement advocacy groups, who opposed Adegbile’s nomination. “Yes it was,” Durbin said, when asked if that opposition played a significant factor in “no” votes.

Reid reserved the right to reconsider the Adegbile nomination at a later date, though given the mess Wednesday, it’s unlikely such a day will come. A replay of the vote any closer to the election likely would make the intraparty divisions for Democrats worse. And Republicans would relish the opportunity.

Comments (61)

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published.

author email

  1. ShadrachSmith

    March 5, 2014
    10:17 p.m.

    It is hard to explain why Obama nominated a race-baiting hustler for a top AG position. It is difficult to explain why Obama asked for Reid to drop the nuke so Adegbile could avoid a filibuster. Then, to call a vote that he loses?

    Would you lean more toward’s incompetence, or stupidity? Does Obama want to lose the Senate so he can rail against Republicans even more?

  2. borgerboy

    March 6, 2014
    8:48 a.m.

    Noticed that my brave RINO, John Cronyn, would not vote either way and just registered a “did not vote”…….what a disgrace to Texas he is….

  3. Coffee Fiend

    March 8, 2014
    8:07 a.m.

    In a related video, CBS News’s Bob Schieffer takes on the lies and deceit of Hussein Obama’s criminal marxist regime:

  4. spo101

    March 8, 2014
    12:08 p.m.

    #GOP #CPAC2014 un-American treatment of Department of
    Justice nominee Debo P. Adegbile makes us VERY angry!

    Debo P. Adegbile, Elizabeth Warren, Shirley Shirrod, Van
    Jones, ACORN… under the bus while Liberal cowards watching Comedies making fun of GOP. MADNESS!

    GOP dis, no plan, no patience, no balls. I’ll bet most of
    you Liberal know-it-alls never been in a street FIGHT!

  5. Yonatan YONATAN

    June 10, 2014
    11:01 a.m.


  6. Anonymous

    June 27, 2015
    5:53 a.m.

    Hiya, I am really glad I have found this information. Nowadays bloggers publish only about gossips and internet and this is actually annoying. A good blog with exciting content, that is what I need. Thank you for keeping this site, I will be visiting it. Do you do newsletters? Can not find it.

  7. Anonymous

    July 2, 2015
    1:02 p.m.

    You are a very clever person!

  8. Anonymous

    July 9, 2015
    6:40 a.m.

    Great items from you, man. I have understand your stuff previous to and you are simply extremely excellent. I actually like what you have bought here, really like what you are saying and the best way during which you are saying it. You make it entertaining and you continue to care for to stay it smart. I cant wait to learn far more from you. That is actually a great site.

  9. Anonymous

    July 18, 2015
    3:57 a.m.

    Today, I went to the beach with my kids. I found a sea shell and gave it to my 4 year old daughter and said “You can hear the ocean if you put this to your ear.” She placed the shell to her ear and screamed. There was a hermit crab inside and it pinched her ear. She never wants to go back! LoL I know this is totally off topic but I had to tell someone!

  10. Anonymous

    July 21, 2015
    3:57 a.m.

    Very interesting info !Perfect just what I was searching for!

  11. Anonymous

    July 21, 2015
    7:03 a.m.

    I view something really special in this website.

  12. Anonymous

    July 24, 2015
    9:50 a.m.

    I was recommended this blog through my cousin. I’m not certain whether this publish is written by way of him as nobody else realize such certain about my difficulty. You’re amazing! Thank you!

  13. Anonymous

    July 24, 2015
    10:52 p.m.

    Very great post. I just stumbled upon your blog and wished to mention that I’ve really loved browsing your weblog posts. After all I will be subscribing for your feed and I hope you write again soon!

  14. Anonymous

    July 24, 2015
    11:28 p.m.

    As I web site possessor I believe the content material here is rattling wonderful , appreciate it for your efforts. You should keep it up forever! Good Luck.

  15. Anonymous

    July 25, 2015
    7:38 a.m.

    I have not checked in here for a while since I thought it was getting boring, but the last few posts are good quality so I guess I’ll add you back to my daily bloglist. You deserve it my friend :)

  16. Anonymous

    July 25, 2015
    10:40 p.m.

    I am really inspired with your writing talents as neatly as with the layout to your blog. Is that this a paid topic or did you customize it yourself? Anyway stay up the excellent high quality writing, it’s uncommon to see a great blog like this one today..

  17. Anonymous

    July 28, 2015
    9:07 a.m.

    Thanks for the sensible critique. Me and my neighbor were just preparing to do some research about this. We got a grab a book from our area library but I think I learned more from this post. I am very glad to see such excellent info being shared freely out there.

  18. Anonymous

    July 30, 2015
    6:57 p.m.

    You completed some nice points there. I did a search on the topic and found nearly all folks will consent with your blog.

  19. Anonymous

    July 31, 2015
    4:15 p.m.

    You are a very clever individual!

  20. Anonymous

    Aug. 2, 2015
    2:23 p.m.

    As soon as I observed this internet site I went on reddit to share some of the love with them.

  21. Anonymous

    Aug. 2, 2015
    5:02 p.m.

    I do love the manner in which you have framed this particular situation and it does indeed give us some fodder for consideration. Nonetheless, through what precisely I have witnessed, I just simply hope when the comments pack on that people today continue to be on issue and not start on a soap box associated with some other news du jour. Still, thank you for this excellent piece and although I can not necessarily go along with it in totality, I respect your viewpoint.

  22. Anonymous

    Aug. 6, 2015
    8:25 a.m.

    Hello! Do you know if they make any plugins to protect against hackers? I’m kinda paranoid about losing everything I’ve worked hard on. Any tips?

  23. Anonymous

    Aug. 6, 2015
    9:21 a.m.

    Hi there, just became alert to your blog through Google, and found that it is truly informative. I am gonna watch out for brussels. I’ll appreciate if you continue this in future. Many people will be benefited from your writing. Cheers!

  24. Anonymous

    Aug. 9, 2015
    5:31 p.m.

    I and also my friends have been following the good tips located on your web blog and then I had an awful suspicion I never expressed respect to the blog owner for those strategies. These young men are actually absolutely passionate to study them and have simply been using these things. Appreciate your actually being simply kind and also for opting for this form of incredible information millions of individuals are really desirous to understand about. My very own honest regret for not saying thanks to you sooner.

  25. Anonymous

    Aug. 17, 2015
    6:46 p.m.

    Hi! I just wanted to ask if you ever have any trouble with hackers? My last blog (wordpress) was hacked and I ended up losing several weeks of hard work due to no backup. Do you have any methods to stop hackers?

  26. Anonymous

    Aug. 17, 2015
    8:23 p.m.

    Greetings! Very helpful advice on this article! It is the little changes that make the biggest changes. Thanks a lot for sharing!

  27. Anonymous

    Aug. 24, 2015
    5:57 a.m.

    Everything is very open and very clear explanation of issues. was truly information. Your website is very useful. Thanks for sharing.

  28. Anonymous

    Aug. 24, 2015
    10:24 a.m.

    I was looking through some of your content on this internet site and I believe this site is really informative ! Keep on posting.

  29. Anonymous

    Aug. 25, 2015
    3:04 p.m.

    I’m truly enjoying the design and layout of your website. It’s a very easy on the eyes which makes it much more enjoyable for me to come here and visit more often. Did you hire out a designer to create your theme? Fantastic work!

  30. Anonymous

    Aug. 25, 2015
    8:50 p.m.

    Some truly interesting info , well written and broadly speaking user genial.

  31. Anonymous

    Aug. 29, 2015
    5:53 p.m.

    You can definitely see your enthusiasm within the paintings you write. The arena hopes for more passionate writers such as you who are not afraid to mention how they believe. At all times follow your heart. “The most profound joy has more of gravity than of gaiety in it.” by Michel de Montaigne.

  32. Anonymous

    Sept. 1, 2015
    10:31 p.m.

    Hello, i think that i saw you visited my site so i came to “return the favor”.I am attempting to find things to enhance my site!I suppose its ok to use some of your ideas!!

  33. Anonymous

    Sept. 2, 2015
    1:26 a.m.

    Oh my goodness! an amazing article dude. Thanks Nevertheless I am experiencing problem with ur rss . Don’t know why Unable to subscribe to it. Is there anyone getting equivalent rss problem? Anybody who is aware of kindly respond. Thnkx

  34. Anonymous

    Sept. 2, 2015
    12:57 p.m.

    It is best to participate in a contest for among the finest blogs on the web. I will recommend this web site!

  35. Anonymous

    Sept. 2, 2015
    11:47 p.m.

    I know this if off topic but I’m looking into starting my own weblog and was wondering what all is needed to get set up? I’m assuming having a blog like yours would cost a pretty penny? I’m not very web smart so I’m not 100 certain. Any suggestions or advice would be greatly appreciated. Thank you

  36. Anonymous

    Sept. 8, 2015
    6:04 a.m.

    It’s actually a nice and useful piece of info. I’m satisfied that you simply shared this useful information with us. Please stay us informed like this. Thank you for sharing.

  37. desene animate pentru copii

    Sept. 9, 2015
    10:05 p.m.

    I really enjoy the blog.Really looking forward to read more. Cool.

  38. Anonymous

    Sept. 13, 2015
    6:24 a.m.

    Some really nice and useful info on this site, also I believe the layout contains excellent features.

  39. Anonymous

    Sept. 17, 2015
    5:22 a.m.

    Thank you for the good writeup. It in reality used to be a amusement account it. Glance complicated to more added agreeable from you! By the way, how could we communicate?

  40. Anonymous

    Sept. 17, 2015
    12:58 p.m.

    Glad to be one of many visitors on this awing site : D.

  41. Anonymous

    Sept. 17, 2015
    6:08 p.m.

    It’s really a nice and useful piece of information. I’m glad that you shared this helpful info with us. Please keep us informed like this. Thanks for sharing.

  42. federated insurance owatonna

    Sept. 19, 2015
    6:57 p.m.

    Whats amazing post here. I will turn attention on your description.

  43. hanover homes

    Sept. 19, 2015
    8:11 p.m.

    Thanks for detailed review.. Waiting for future notes

  44. esurance ratings

    Sept. 20, 2015
    10:19 a.m.

    Save more with us and online auto insurance comparison. It takes only few minutes to get quotes and save on home or auto insurance policies.

  45. esurance ratings

    Sept. 20, 2015
    10:25 a.m.

    Thanks for detailed review.. Waiting for future notes

  46. state farm insurance quote

    Sept. 20, 2015
    3:26 p.m.

    Thanks for the best info posted here.. Just waiting for update.

  47. state auto insurance quote

    Sept. 20, 2015
    3:51 p.m.

    Thanks for great info, I will you use it for my review!

  48. amica insurance review

    Sept. 21, 2015
    4:29 p.m.

    Thanks for great info, I will you use it for my review!

  49. home mutual insurance

    Sept. 22, 2015
    6:08 a.m.

    Get quotes by zip code and save up to 505 annually.

  50. Anonymous

    Sept. 22, 2015
    9:38 a.m.

    Having read this I believed it was rather informative. I appreciate you spending some time and effort to put this content together. I once again find myself personally spending a lot of time both reading and leaving comments. But so what, it was still worth it!

  51. amax auto insurance quotes

    Sept. 22, 2015
    5:25 p.m.

    Best quotes in the USA on auto and home insurance. Get quotes by zip code and save on policy!

  52. federated mutual home insurance quotes

    Sept. 23, 2015
    5:37 a.m.

    Save on cheapest rates with out insurance companies. Get quotes on home and auto insurance by zip code.

  53. federated insurance quotes

    Sept. 23, 2015
    7:07 a.m.

    It takes only few minutes to get quotes and save on home or auto insurance policies.

  54. Anonymous

    Sept. 23, 2015
    7:40 a.m.

    Sweet internet site, super pattern, really clean and utilise pleasant.

  55. Zack Zoss

    Sept. 23, 2015
    2:08 p.m.

    This weblog is very prodigious, just what i was looking for to go through on my short break. Thanks Again

  56. Anonymous

    Sept. 26, 2015
    10:49 a.m.

    I real happy to find this web site on bing, just what I was looking for : D also saved to fav.

  57. Anonymous

    Sept. 26, 2015
    11:06 a.m.

    you are really a good webmaster. The website loading speed is incredible. It seems that you’re doing any unique trick. In addition, The contents are masterwork. you have done a great job on this topic!

  58. Anonymous

    Sept. 28, 2015
    10:43 a.m.

    Hvp6QE It as hard to come by well-informed people for this topic, however, you sound like you know what you are talking about! Thanks

  59. house insurance quotes

    Sept. 28, 2015
    11:38 a.m.

    Save $520 annually on auto insurance policy here.

  60. Anonymous

    Oct. 1, 2015
    11:57 a.m.

    This page really has all the information I wanted about this subject and didn’t know who to ask.

  61. acuity group

    Oct. 1, 2015
    4:47 p.m.

    Get quotes by zip code and save up to 505 annually.

Sign In

Forgot password?



Receive daily coverage of the people, politics and personality of Capitol Hill.

Subscription | Free Trial

Logging you in. One moment, please...