Thanks, but no thanks.
That was the answer Thursday from Nevada Republican Gov. Brian Sandoval following reports that President Obama was considering him as a potential nominee for the Supreme Court vacancy. Sandoval says he’s already told the White House he’s not interested.
“Earlier today, I notified the White House that I do not wish to be considered at this time for possible nomination to the Supreme Court of the United States,” Sandoval said in a statement, adding he’s told key Senate leaders the same. “The notion of being considered for a seat on the highest court in the land is beyond humbling and I am incredibly grateful to have been mentioned.”
It remains unclear how serious the White House may have been about considering Sandoval.
The nomination of any Republican to the seat left by the late Justice Antonin Scalia would be seen as an attempt by 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 a vote on Obama's pick, insisting that the choice rests with the next president.
Whether GOP senators would ease their opposition with a Republican nominee is an open question. But on the campaign trail, Democratic presidential front-runner Hillary Clinton already had come out against the Sandoval nomination idea.
“There has been some talk maybe the president will nominate the Republican governor of Nevada. Now I love Nevada … and I know the governor has done some good things, but I sure hope the president chooses a true progressive who will stand up for the values and the interests of the people of this country,” she said earlier Thursday.
The White House still won’t confirm that Sandoval was under consideration.
White House Press Secretary Josh Earnest said Obama plans to meet next week with leaders of the Senate Judiciary Committee, and “intensive consultation” on a nomination will continue.
Sandoval's communications director said Wednesday that the governor had not been contacted by the White House.
Sandoval met with Senate Minority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nev., on Monday in Washington while he was in town for a meeting of the National Governors Association. On Thursday, House Democratic Leader Nancy Pelosi said she thought it would be a good idea for President Obama to nominate a Republican.
Before Sandoval, 52, became the state's first Hispanic governor, he was the state's first Hispanic federal judge. He supports abortion. But liberal groups swiftly came out against the nomination idea.
"Nominating Sandoval to the Supreme Court would not only prevent grassroots 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.
Limited to two terms, Sandoval's final term as governor expires in early 2019. He announced last year that he would not seek Reid's seat, in this November's election, a race in which Sandoval would have been a strong favorite.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.