WASHINGTON — The White House is considering Republican Gov. Brian Sandoval of Nevada as a possible nominee to the Supreme Court, two people familiar with the process told the Associated Press on Wednesday.
The nomination of a Republican would be seen as an attempt by President Barack Obama to break the Senate GOP blockade of any of his choices. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., has said his 54-member GOP caucus is opposed to holding confirmation hearings or voting on Obama's pick, insisting that the choice rests with the next president.
Mari St. Martin, Sandoval's communications director, said Wednesday that the governor hasn't been contacted by the White House.
"Neither Gov. Sandoval nor his staff has been contacted by or talked to the Obama administration regarding any potential vetting for the vacancy on the U.S. Supreme Court," she said.
Sandoval met with Senate Democratic Leader Harry Reid on Monday in Washington while he was in town for a meeting of the National Governors Association.
At the governors' meeting over the weekend, Sandoval said he was honored his name was mentioned as a potential successor for the late Justice Antonin Scalia, but had heard nothing to think the Democratic president is considering him.
Before Sandoval, 52, became the state's first Hispanic governor, he was the state's first Hispanic federal judge. He supports abortion rights, a position that might assuage some Democrats nervous about the nomination of a Republican. But liberal groups swiftly came out against the idea.
"Nominating Sandoval to the Supreme Court would not only prevent grass roots organizations like Democracy for America from supporting the president in this nomination fight, it could lead us to actively encouraging Senate Democrats to oppose his appointment," said Democracy for America.