WASHINGTON — Outspoken Republican South Carolina Sen. Lindsey Graham said Wednesday that he would vote for Supreme Court nominee Sonia Sotomayor, calling her "well-qualified."
Graham's decision had been closely watched as an important barometer of whether Sotomayor, President Barack Obama's first Supreme Court nominee, would attract strong bipartisan support.
"I would not have chosen her if I had made this choice as president," the conservative Graham said in a Senate speech, "but I understand why President Obama did choose her, and I'm happy to vote for her."
Graham, the fifth Republican senator — and the first Republican on the Senate Judiciary Committee — to declare his support for the federal appellate judge, urged colleagues to put aside partisan politics. "I do believe elections have consequences, and it's not like we hid from the American people during the campaign that the Supreme Court selections were at stake," said Graham, who was a strong supporter of 2008 Republican presidential nominee John McCain.
The other four GOP backers — Indiana's Richard Lugar, Florida's Mel Martinez and Maine's Olympia Snowe and Susan Collins — were no surprise because each is considered more moderate than Graham. Since Democrats control 60 Senate seats, the Republican support almost assures Sotomayor of an overwhelming confirmation vote.