Battle to replace Ginsburg could go either way, local experts say, possibly impact Kansas Senate race

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KANSAS CITY, Mo. — All four U.S. Senators from Kansas and Missouri, all Republicans, say they support replacing Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg this year.

Retiring Kansas Sen. Pat Roberts announced Monday he supports moving forward with a nominee from President Donald Trump. Justice Ginsburg passed away on Friday. 

The vacancy is setting up a major battle in the U.S. Senate six weeks from election day.

Local experts said it could go either way. Dr. Beth Vonnahme, an associate political science professor at the University of Missouri-Kansas City, said both sides are up for the fight.

“I think there’s going to be an attempt by both parties to use this passing to further their election efforts,” Vonnahme said.

Republican Roger Marshall and Democrat Barbara Bollier are going head to head in November, vying over one of Kansas’ traditionally Republican Senate seats.

“I don’t think it’s likely it will change, but it could very well make more women go out and vote, perhaps for Barbara Bollier,” political analyst Annie Presley said.

“It could affect it either way. Is it going to drive more turnout for the Democrat if there are hearings that take place before the election, or is that going to just motivate the president’s base?” public affairs analyst Jason Grill said. “It’s hard to predict, but I think we’ll find out in the next few days and weeks if this is going to move forward before the election.”

All three said it’s unclear if Trump would be able to pull off a nomination and appointment before January. While this may heat up the Kansas Senate race, much of the focus is still on the Supreme Court’s loss and its future.

“Everybody loved her. We didn’t always agree with her, but we loved her for who she was and what she stood for,” Presley said.

“Whether it’s a conservative woman or a liberal woman or a moderate woman — it would still be a step forward to have a woman on the bench,” Vonnahme said.

Trump said he plans to announce his nominee either Friday or Saturday after Ginsburg’s services at the Capitol and Supreme Court this week but before her burial next week. He said he plans to appoint a woman to the seat. 

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