The Senate voted 56-43 Thursday, finally, to confirm Loretta Lynch as attorney general, with eight Republicans voting to confirm her. Five had already committed themselves
to support her: Republicans Orrin Hatch (UT), Jeff Flake (AZ), Lindsey Graham (SC), Mark Kirk (IL), and Susan Collins (ME).
Not too surprisingly, embattled incumbent Kirk was joined by three others who have potentially tough re-elections in 2016 in purple states: Kelly Ayotte (NH), Rob Portman (OH), and tea partier Ron Johnson (R-WI). But a couple other of the yes votes are a surprise: Thad Cochran (MS) and particularly Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, the guy who made AG Lynch wait for five months for a vote.
Here's where the balancing act of McConnell's vote comes in—not only do those four purple state senators have to worry about their general elections next year, they want to make sure they're not going to be primaried from the right. That's where McConnell comes in. His yes vote provides them cover. After all, if the Republican leader could vote for her, well then. …
Now here's the really interesting part. The one senator not voting? Ted Cruz. Yeah, the guy who wrote an op-ed about the Senate must not confirm her. The guy who returned to D.C. to oppose her confirmation, and who ranted on the floor this morning that Lynch is "unfit" for the job, saying:
"The Republican majority, if it so chose, could defeat this nomination. But the Republican majority has chosen to go forward and allow Loretta Lynch to be confirmed. […] There are more than a few voters back home that are asking what exactly is the difference between a Democratic and Republican majority when the exact same individual gets confirmed as Attorney General, promising the exact same lawlessness."
Apparently Cruz is running for president against the whole of the Senate. So far, he has provided no explanation for being a no-show on the actual vote.
12:46 PM PT: Ah, the Ted Cruz mystery. Why he said he didn't vote: "a commitment in Texas" and voting against cloture was "most important" anyway. And about that "commitment" in Texas? Of course it is a fundraiser, "benefiting Cruz for President."