Donnelly targeted as Indiana’s U.S. Senators meet with Supreme Court nominee

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WASHINGTON – U.S. Sen. Joe Donnelly (D-Ind.) greeted U.S. Supreme Court nominee Judge Neil Gorsuch with pleasantries at his Capitol Hill office Tuesday.

“Good to see you,” both men said.

Donnelly is one of several new targets among conservative lawmakers and outside interest groups, aimed at Democrats like Donnelly who are up for re-election in 2018.

“I will continue to carefully review Judge Gorsuch’s record and qualifications in the coming weeks,” Donnelly said in a prepared statement after the meeting.

TV political ads are already hitting the airwaves targeting Donnelly, including from groups like the National Republican Senatorial Committee and the conservative Judicial Crisis Network.

The Judicial Crisis Network has vowed to spend upwards of $10 million leading up to the nomination.

“We will force vulnerable Senators up for re-election in 2018 like Joe Donnelly and Claire McCaskill to decide between keeping their Senate seats or following Chuck Schumer’s liberal, obstructionist agenda,” Carrie Severino said in a recent statement, chief counsel and policy director for the Judicial Crisis Network.

Donnelly called Tuesday’s conversation with Gorsuch thoughtful, though he didn't say which way he will vote.

“I don’t feel any pressure at all,” Donnelly said in an interview late last week. “Because the only people that I work for are the people of Indiana. I’m the hired help and so the decisions I make, the information I’m gathering is to try to make the best decision on our behalf.”

Sen. Todd Young (R-Ind.) met with Gorsuch on Monday and called the judge incredibly impressive.

“Judge Gorsuch reinforced his strongly held belief that, “the job of a judge is not to write laws, but instead to interpret them and apply them to the facts of any given case,’” Young’s office said in statement.

Meantime several Indiana Republicans have said they’re considering running against Donnelly in 2018, including Rep. Luke Messer (R-Ind.) and Rep. Todd Rokita (R-Ind.)

“I challenge Joe Donnelly to really listen to the will of Hoosiers,” Rokita said in an interview Friday.

Messer said Tuesday he’s received a lot of support urging him to run, but hasn’t made a decision.

“I think any pressure Sen. Donnelly is gonna get on the vote for Judge Gorsuch is going to come from the people of Indiana,” Messer said. “Hoosiers made very clear in this election they supported the presidential nominee who promised to put forward a conservative justice.”