Have all of the eleventh-hour allegations emerging over the past week caused Brett Kavanaugh to reconsider his appointment to the Supreme Court? The appellate judge answered that question for himself in a letter to the Senate Judiciary Committee earlier today. “I will not be intimidated into withdrawing from this process,” Kavanaugh declared, not even with “smears, pure and simple” muddying his name and reputation:

“There is now a frenzy,” Kavanaugh writes, “to come up with something — anything — that will block this process and a vote on my confirmation from occurring.” Having smears received without corroboration and without evidence “debase our public discourse,” and worse yet, have become “a threat to any man or woman who wishes to serve our country.”

So much for the idea that Kavanaugh might quietly retire from the battle. That puts more pressure on Republicans to remain in support, especially with their voters putting high stock in ensuring conservative appointments to the Supreme Court. Politico reported earlier today that this is starting to get a little transactional for GOP leadership:

Republican leaders are closely watching the reactions of Sens. Jeff Flake of Arizona, Susan Collins of Maine, Lisa Murkowski of Alaska and Bob Corker of Tennessee to the latest Kavanaugh news to determine whether they can proceed with the nomination, according to GOP senators and aides.

A Republican senator familiar with internal deliberations said that the electoral calculations of McConnell and other GOP leaders could weigh more heavily on Kavanaugh’s future than a small group of undecided GOP lawmakers. This Republican argued that if GOP leaders can keep the majority, confirming someone other than Kavanaugh would be less of a problem than taking a major political hit in November.

“They care a lot about this nominee. But they care far more about being the majority,” the senator said on Monday. “If I were [Kavanaugh] I would be more concerned with that then the three or four independent-minded senators … his greatest threat is McConnell and Senate leadership if they think this is going against them in the midterms.”

Kavanaugh is likely much more concerned with his reputation and the damage his family is taking, thanks to a process that had begun to spin out of control from its inception. GOP electoral hopes weigh very low on Kavanaugh’s priority list. The senator who provided that anonymous observation needs a reality check of his own.

For Republican leaders who understandably have electoral considerations as a higher priority, they should ask themselves this: which will cost them more? Kavanaugh, or a cave?

Update: Earlier today, Sen. Orrin Hatch blasted Democrats for “playing hide the ball,” first with Christine Blasey Ford and now with these new allegations (via Twitchy):

It’s pretty clear to see what Hatch will tell the Senate Republican caucus. Let’s see if they’ll listen.