An unconventional trial balloon was floated yesterday when sources close to the process said the White House was considering Nevada Gov. Brian Sandoval, a relatively moderate Republican, for the Supreme Court. It was difficult to know whether Sandoval was being considered seriously, or whether the West Wing was trolling congressional Republicans, but if the goal was to float a rumor that got people talking, it worked like a charm.
The chatter, however, only lasted about a day.
Nevada Republican Gov. Brian Sandoval said Thursday that he is not interested in being tapped to fill the current vacancy on the Supreme Court.Sandoval, a Republican who favors abortion rights and supported the court’s decision on same sex marriage last year, made the statement just one day after news broke that he was being considered for the job.
“Earlier today, I notified the White House that I do not wish to be considered at this time for possible nomination to the Supreme Court of the United States,” Sandoval said in a statement. The governor added that he’d already communicated his position to Senate leaders.
This almost certainly will end speculation about Sandoval’s possible role as Obama’s choice, but before we move on, let’s not brush past an important detail: the GOP governor seemed pretty interested in the idea before today.
As recently as Saturday, after Sen. Dean Heller (R-Nev.) pointed to Sandoval as a possible choice for Obama, the governor said, “It would be a privilege.” Sandoval went on to call the Supreme Court “the essence of justice in this country.”
Those are not the kind of comments someone makes when trying to tamp down speculation and redirect attention elsewhere. They’re actually the opposite.
There’s a decent chance President Obama was never serious about Sandoval. It fact, it’s not hard to imagine some White House officials, eager to make a point about Republican radicalism, floated his name as a trial balloon because they knew GOP senators would shoot it down – which they did.
But it’s also a safe bet that, as recently as yesterday, Sandoval started imagining himself as a Supreme Court nominee, and he didn’t reject the idea out of hand.