Hawley, McCaskill primed for November election, debate challenges issued by both candidates

  

JEFFERSON CITY, Mo. – The November general election is set to be one of the most contentious and highly-watched races in the nation as all eyes look to see who sits in Missouri’s second U.S. Senate seat.

Republican and current Missouri Attorney General Josh Hawley will face incumbent-Democratic U.S. Senator Claire McCaskill in the November election, bringing to fruition the race that everyone has expected for nearly a year now. Hawley did not officially announce his intentions to run for the seat until months after the rumors had already swirled around the State Capitol, but upon his arrival into the primary, it became clear the Republican would be the one to beat. Hawley on Tuesday night emerged the victor of an 11-candidate field with more than 50 percent of the vote.

The Republican has made a point of calling out McCaskill over the subject of President Donald Trump’s pick for the U.S. Supreme Court and has called for McCaskill to debate him.

McCaskill walked to an easy win on Tuesday night. Just hours before the polls closed, McCaskill said she is ready to debate Hawley or whoever received the Republican nomination.

Upon winning the primary nod, McCaskill penned a letter to Hawley calling for four town hall-style debates, as well as the Missouri Press Association debate.

“As a U.S. Senator it is my job to hold myself accountable to all Missourians,” wrote McCaskill. “That’s why I’ve held public town halls with Missourians throughout my time as Senator — including more than 50 across the state since 2017…Missourians deserve the same chance to ask you questions and hear your answers as they have consistently had with me.”

In a statement issued after his victory, Hawley also called for a series of one-on-one debates across the state.

“I am proposing a series of one-on-one debates all over Missouri,” Hawley said. “Just me and Senator McCaskill. No moderator. No complicated rules. Just me and Claire McCaskill debating on the back of a flatbed truck, traveling all over the state to air out our differences. That way everyone in Missouri can make up their mind based on what they see with their own eyes. And it starts tomorrow.”

For McCaskill, the battle will be trying to prove herself a more moderate candidate, as Missouri’s red ties helped spur on President Trump’s 19-point victory margin in 2016. It’s important for Democrats to retain that seat if they want to have any chance of gaining control of the Senate, as Republicans currently hold a 51-49 advantage with Vice President Mike Pence serving as the potential tiebreaker.

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 benjamin@themissouritimes.com or follow him on Twitter @BenjaminDPeters.