ST. LOUIS – Sen. Kurt Schaefer, R-Columbia, and University of Missouri law professor Josh Hawley discussed their ads and campaign contributors in a debate on KMOX Monday afternoon moderated by Mark Reardon that, like their race for the Republican nomination, was contentious and combative.
Both men stood by advertisements they’ve aired criticizing the other while also calling each other out for inconsistencies in their track records and their experience. Multiple times the candidates cut each other off and tried to talk over each other forcing Reardon to restore decorum.
The two started by battling over their experience as attorneys. Schaefer cited his 20 years of courtroom experience in Missouri while saying Hawley has never tried a case in a courtroom.
In the two cases Hawley says that he’s beat the Obama administration, Schaefer said he was nothing more than a name on a brief and after the top name, “those names don’t matter.”
But Hawley pushed back by criticizing Schaefer’s own lack of experience in front of the Supreme Court.
“He doesn’t understand how litigation works in the United States Supreme Court because he’s never litigated in front of the United States Supreme Court,” he said. He cited experiences working on the cases where he says he beat back federal overreach and his time working for Chief Justice John Roberts.
The two also clashed over their vision of the actual work of the Office of the Attorney General. Schaefer said most of the work the office does is consumer protection, fighting fraud and being the top law enforcement officer in the state, “All of the things I’ve been doing for 20 years and all of the things he’s never done.”
But Hawley challenged Schaefer’s view of the office, saying it was molded because when he worked in the office, it was under then Attorney General Jay Nixon. Hawley said he’d expand the office’s efforts to push back the role of the federal government.
“I think Missouri can be part of the solution to the crisis we are facing in this country,” he said.
The two also fought over ads they had aired attacking each other. Hawley defended an ad where he plays audio of Schaefer calling himself a moderate.
“He’s said he’s a moderate,” he said. “I’d invite people to look at his record, because I think this race ought to be a comparison on our records.”
Hawley also cited endorsements and contributions from the AFL-CIO.
But Schaefer pushed back. He said he’s been rated 100 percent conservative throughout his time in the Senate. He also said he received the AFL-CIO endorsement and contribution because he supported the firefighters.
Next, Schafer defended an ad where he accused Hawley of supporting a terrorist, specifically the American Taliban. Hawley has said his name was on the court records in those cases erroneously.
“His name is on legal briefs filed with the court. How could that be out of context?” Schaefer asked.
While Hawley continued to say he was listed on a court filing by error, he also said it was inconsistent for Schaefer to accuse him of having no experience while also criticizing him for his experience.
Throughout the debate, each candidate tried to paint the other as an insider elite, bought and paid. Multiple times, Hawley brought up Schaefer’s experience as a senator as a disqualification and said his campaign was paid for almost entirely by Rex Sinquefield. Meanwhile, Schaefer drew a picture of Hawley as a Washington elite who couldn’t track with Missouri values. He cited a lot of Hawley’s donations coming from independent expenditure committees funded out of D.C.
“Two-thirds of the money he’s spending is coming in from the East Coast,” Schaefer said.
He also said he’s “running against a 35-year-old Missouri professor who has never been an attorney in a Missouri courtroom.”