One of the candidates the White House is considering as a nominee to replace Justice Antonin Scalia on the Supreme Court is the Nevada Governor Brian Sandoval.
The White House has not yet confirmed that Sandoval is under consideration, but The Washington Post reports that the vetting process is already underway.
While Republicans in the Senate have vowed to block any nomination before President Barack Obama leaves office, the nomination of a Republican candidate could change the equation.
“I don’t pick the justices, but I know if he were picked, I would support the man,” Senate Minority Leader Harry Reid said in a recent interview with CNN. “He’s a good person, has a great record, and has been a tremendously good governor in spite of having to deal with some very big problems there.”
Here’s what you need to know about Sandoval:
He previously served as federal district judge…
In 2005, Sandoval was appointed United States District Judge for the District of Nevada by President George W. Bush. He served until 2009, when he stepped down to run for governor.
…And was confirmed by the Senate unanimously
Sandoval was recommended for district judge by Democratic Senator Harry Reid, who sung the former state attorney general’s praises during his confirmation hearing. “There has been a lot of squabbling in recent years here with judges,” Reid said during the hearing. “Brian Sandoval will cause no squabbles. Everyone will vote for him. He is a class act.”
And everyone did vote for him. He was unanimously confirmed with an 89-0 vote.
He was the first Latino to win statewide office in Nevada
Sandoval was elected Nevada attorney general in 2002, and ousted the scandal-plagued Republican Governor Jim Gibbons in a 2010 primary. He has since gone on to become one of the most popular Republican governors in the country.
While Democrats fear that an endorsement from him could drive Hispanic and Latino turnout for the Republican presidential candidate in 2016, Politico Magazine reports that Sandoval’s moderate policy positions complicate his relationship with the GOP outside of Nevada.
He supports abortion rights
A moderate Republican, Sandoval’s position lines up with the Democrats on several key issues. He’s worked to implement the Medicaid expansion in Nevada as part of the Affordable Care Act and supported immigration reform and renewable energy. Most notably, Sandoval is pro-choice.
“I respect a woman’s ability to make that decision for herself,” Sandoval told The Daily Beast in 2012. “My approach has always been to be up front with the people of this state and so when I get asked about it I’m very blunt and clear and it makes some people unhappy.”
Republicans aren’t changing their tune, yet.
Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell told The Washington Post in a statement that even if Obama nominates a Republican, it would not make a difference. McConnell, who previously pledged to take “no action” on a replacement for Scalia before the presidential election, maintained that the nominee “will be determined by whoever wins the presidency in the fall.”