JEFFERSON CITY, Mo. – It didn’t take long after Attorney General Josh Hawley’s announcement for his potential opponents to weigh in on the Republican’s bid for U.S. Senate in 2018.
Incumbent Democrat Senator Claire McCaskill’s campaign has been running political ads against Hawley for some time now, as the former University of Missouri law professor prolonged the answer as to whether he would run in the next election.
McCaskill campaign manager David Kirby released the following statement on Hawley’s announcement on Tuesday:
“Since taking office in January, Josh Hawley has proven to be the worst type of politician. He broke his promise not to climb the political ladder. He broke his promise to create a Public Corruption Unit to crack down on the pay-to-play culture of Jefferson City. He lied about whether he would live in Jefferson City, as the law requires. And he lied for nearly two months about whether he was running for Senate.
“We applaud Josh for coming clean about his intention to run and look forward to contrasting his record of broken promises with Claire’s record of listening to Missourians and breaking through gridlock to get things done for them.”
Missouri Democratic Party Communications Director Meira Bernstein released the following statement:
“Two months ago, Josh Hawley filed paperwork to run for United States Senate — and then lied to Missourians about it while he raised money behind closed doors with millionaires, DC special interests, and Republican leaders in Washington. It’s clear who Josh Hawley is running to represent in the United States Senate, and it’s not Missouri.”
To run against McCaskill, Hawley would first have to defeat Austin Petersen, Tony Monetti and Courtland Sykes in a Republican primary.
Sykes posted a video on Tuesday in response to Hawley entering the race, calling him a RINO (Republican In Name Only) and saying he would “America’s next wannabe senator errand boy for Danforth and Mitch McConnell.”
Others were much more receptive to the announcement, especially the Republican opposition research outfit Missouri Rising, which launched a super PAC, named Missouri Rising Action, in August to encourage Hawley to run.
“After more than a decade in Washington, Missourians have had it with Claire McCaskill’s record of voting the partisan liberal Democrat line,” Missouri Rising Action spokesperson Jeremy Adler said. “With Josh Hawley, the Show-Me State will finally have a Senator that actually represents the interests and values of Missouri, fighting for common sense conservative policies and challenging the D.C. status quo that Senator McCaskill has entrenched herself in.”
In Washington, D.C., Hawley has managed to get the support of a number of prominent Republicans, including Senate Republican Leader Mitch McConnell, Vice President Mike Pence and former U.S. Senator Jack Danforth.
Hawley has also apparently garnered the support of Steve Bannon, the executive chairman of the conservative website Breitbart and former White House strategist. Breitbart on Sunday published a list of preferred Senate candidates, calling him a “hardcore conservative who will not go along to get along like McConnell wants in Washington.”
Benjamin Peters is a reporter for the Missouri Times and Missouri Times Magazine, and also produces the #MoLeg Podcast. He joined the Missouri Times in 2016 after working as a sports editor and TV news producer in mid-Missouri. Benjamin is a graduate of Missouri State University in Springfield. To contact Benjamin, email email@example.com or follow him on Twitter @BenjaminDPeters.