Senate votes on judicial confirmations often can follow party lines, with the — for now — Democratic majority voting for and Republicans generally voting against President Obama’s nominees. But sometimes it doesn’t work that way.

On Thursday, 18 Republicans voted to cut off debate and bring the nomination of Gregory Stivers for a district court seat to a vote. But 23 GOP senators voted against allowing the Kentucky lawyer’s nomination to come up.

They might come to regret that vote when incoming Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.), who naturally supported Stivers, takes over next month.

Even worse, if Sen. Rand Paul (R-Ky.) becomes president, he may remember who voted against allowing a vote on the nomination of a man Paul introduced with high praise to the Senate Judiciary Committee.

“I’ve known Greg Stivers for over 20 years as a friend, neighbor and father,” Paul said. “He’s respected in the community, he has wisdom, a sense of justice and a fidelity to the rule of law.”

Stivers eventually was confirmed on a voice vote.

Sure, some might say “nothing personal,” just a protest against outgoing Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid’s use of the “nuclear option” a year ago to limit filibusters on nominations. And Paul may be a forgiving guy, but still, to put Stivers through all the paperwork, the vetting, the hearing and then to vote against him . . .