Offices of some senators deluged with Kavanaugh calls

Susan Collins yet to announce decision on nominee

By ELIZABETH LANDERS, CNN

Sen. Susan Collins (R-Maine)

BANGOR, Maine (CNN) - As the nomination process of Brett Kavanaugh to the Supreme Court has reached a crescendo in the last week, some senators are feeling the heat over what their vote will be more than others.

Maine's senior senator, Republican Susan Collins, has yet to announce her decision on Kavanaugh's nomination, and as one of the chamber's more moderate members, she is a crucial vote to watch. Republicans can confirm President Donald Trump's nominee without any support from Democrats, but since the GOP only controls the chamber by 51-49, there is barely any room for Republicans to lose votes from their own ranks.

And constituents from Maine and beyond are voicing their concerns, as CNN observed from her Bangor office on Thursday.

"So don't rush the vote is what you're saying?" asked one of the staffers who worked the phones Thursday during a call with constituents.

The two aides who take calls who sit in the cozy office estimated that they receive more than a hundred calls a day on the issue of Kavanaugh's nomination.

Carol H. Woodcock, who oversees the Bangor office, told CNN that they have also received threatening calls to their office -- more than she's ever seen around any issue -- and that she keeps track of them and refers them to the Collins' D.C. office. Woodcock noted that the volume of calls regarding Kavanaugh and the Supreme Court are overwhelming calls on other issues like health care or veterans concerns. She is worried that other topics are getting drowned out.

Though CNN was not privy to the receiving end of the phone conversation, one of the women working the phone assured a caller at one point, "She (Collins) still does care what her constituents have to say."

The tone and attitude of the callers varies -- one call that CNN observed indicated support for Kavanaugh's confirmation to the court.

Another theme in the calls: people crying. One of the staffers says she has spoken on the phone many times with women who are crying and calling to share their stories of sexual assault. Kavanaugh has been accused of sexual assaulting Christine Blasey Ford when they were both teenagers in the 1980s. Kavanaugh has denied the allegations.

Notes from the call are taken by hand -- including where the caller is from and their name -- and are then logged into a constituent services software by the office.

It's not just Collins' phone lines that are being swamped. Earlier this month, Collins also faced a crowdfunding campaign from liberal activists who threaten to support her opponent in a future Senate re-election if she votes yes for Kavanaugh.

Collins also told The Wall Street Journal in an editorial published last week that the attacks, which include phone calls, from protestors have been profane.

"In one case -- and we are going to turn this over to the police, but unfortunately, of course, the person didn't leave a name or number -- but they actually threatened to rape one of my young female staffers," she told the paper.

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