WASHINGTON — A key GOP senator is warning President Donald Trump not to repeat “mistakes” of past Republican presidents by picking a Supreme Court nominee who turns out to be insufficiently conservative.

Sen. Ted Cruz of Texas says fellow Sen. Mike Lee, R-Utah, would be a “sure thing.”

In a Fox News op-ed, Cruz writes that “after countless mistakes by Republicans, we finally have a chance to get this right.”

He cited former justices William Brennan, John Paul Stevens and Harry Blackmun, who authored the Roe v. Wade decision that established a woman’s right to abortion. All three were nominated by Republican presidents.

The Texas senator had already pushed Lee as his top choice for the vacancy. But his comments come as some conservative and libertarian activists are making the case for Lee over other candidates on the administration’s short list.

The president is closing in on his next Supreme Court nominee, with three federal judges leading the competition to replace retiring Justice Anthony Kennedy.

Trump’s top contenders for the vacancy at this time are federal appeals judges Amy Coney Barrett, Brett Kavanaugh and Raymond Kethledge. That’s according to a person familiar with Trump’s thinking who was not authorized to speak publicly.

Working closely with a White House team and consulting with lawmakers and outside advisers, Trump has spent the week deliberating on the choice. He conducted interviews on Monday and Tuesday and has spoken to seven possible candidates. He has not yet publicly indicated that he has narrowed the list and could still consider others in the mix.

Trump plans to announce his selection Monday night, kicking off a contentious nomination process as Republicans seek to shift the court to the right and Democrats strive to block the effort.

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