A handful of Republican governors facing re-election called on the U.S. Senate Thursday to delay a confirmation vote on Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh to allow time for an investigation into sexual misconduct allegations.
The governors don't have an official role in the nomination process, but their voices could add pressure to the Senate's consideration and help distance themselves from President Donald Trump.
Three governors who called for a delay in the vote have been critical of Trump on at least some issues in the past and are seeking re-election in Democratic-leaning states. Some of their opponents are calling on the Republicans to go even further, including calling on the president to withdraw Kavanaugh's nomination.
Massachusetts Gov. Charlie Baker told reporters there needs to be a full and independent investigation of the claims before a vote is taken.
"I said that because I believe professor Ford," Baker said.
He was referring to Christine Blasey Ford, who told the Senate Judiciary Committee during a hearing Thursday that Kavanaugh sexually assaulted her when both were teenagers in the 1980s. Kavanaugh denied the allegations.
At a rally in Boston on Thursday, his Democratic opponent, Jay Gonzalez, still took aim at Baker for not speaking out more strongly.
"I will be a governor who stands up for women, speaks out against sexual abuse and believes survivors who have the courage to share their stories," he said.
On Wednesday, before Ford's testimony, Vermont Gov. Phil Scott told the Burlington Free Press that the Senate was obligated to "get it right."
"So take your time. Investigate," he said.
Another Republican facing re-election this November, New Hampshire Gov. Chris Sununu, called Ford's allegations serious and said they should be fully investigated.Through a campaign spokesman, Sununu said the Senate "should think carefully about the next steps in this process."
His Democratic challenger Molly Kelly, said Sununu should go further and call for Trump to withdraw Kavanaugh's nomination.
"Sununu's latest statement is not enough," Kelly said in a statement. "And he owes the women of New Hampshire an apology."
The allegations resonate deeply in Maryland, where Kavanaugh and Ford attended separate private prep schools. Ford says the assault took place at a house party in a Maryland suburb of Washington, D.C.
Through a spokeswoman, Maryland Gov. Larry Hogan said Kavanaugh's nomination should not proceed without a full investigation of the allegations. A week earlier, Hogan had rejected a Democratic state senator's call for Maryland state police to investigate Ford's story.
Hogan's opponent in the November election, Democrat Ben Jealous, went further, saying Kavanaugh should not be confirmed.
"The women who have come forward should have the freedom to pursue legal remedy, and our leaders have the obligation to do everything they can to end this epidemic of sexual violence," he said in a statement.
Some other Republican governors and candidates for the office stopped short of calling for a full investigation.
Mike DeWine, the Republican running for the open governor's seat in Ohio, said the Senate needs to look carefully at the evidence, but without specifically calling for a delay in the confirmation vote.
Brian Sandoval, the outgoing Republican governor of Nevada, and Scott Walker, running for re-election in Wisconsin, made similar comments.
Associated Press writers Scott Bauer in Madison, Wisconsin; Michelle Price in Las Vegas; Holly Ramer in Concord, New Hampshire; Bob Salsberg in Boston; Julie Carr Smyth in Columbus, Ohio;; and Brian Witte in Annapolis, Maryland, contributed to this report.