JEFFERSON CITY, Mo. – “I don’t expect your endorsement,” U.S. Sen. Claire McCaskill told Missouri Farm Bureau delegates on Friday. “But if there was no endorsement that would be an improvement.”
Indeed, McCaskill told attendees at the luncheon that she had been advised not to go, as she had no chance of getting the nomination from MOFB.
That advice proved to be true, as the organization’s delegates cast the majority of their votes to endorse her Republican opponent, Josh Hawley, in the 2018 U.S. Senate race.
Both candidates addressed members on Friday, hopeful of convincing the organization to support their campaign for Senate while fielding questions from Farm Bureau members, ranging from topics such as the Supreme Court nomination to the trade war with China.
Hawley, endorsed by President Donald Trump, spoke in support of the tariffs imposed against China, calling it a way to barter a new deal on trade, as well the $12 billion aid package Trump has announced as a way to soften the effects of the trade war on U.S. farmers.
Hawley told those in a attendance that the agricultural way of life is under threat in the U.S., and that his priorities to address that issue is to dismantle bureaucracies, change the abilities of the EPA, rewrite abilities of governmental agencies, pass the Farm Bill, work for better trade deals, and repeal and replace the Affordable Care Act and better address rural healthcare.
McCaskill, on the other hand, opposed the trade tariffs, calling them a “gut punch” to Missouri farmers, as the state exported nearly $1 billion worth of goods to China last year.
“The damage that is being done to Missouri agriculture is inexcusable,” McCaskill said.
She said farmers don’t want bailouts or aid but instead want a fair market, predictability and less regulation, but said that these tariffs have a dramatic effect and mean hard choices for farmers.
Those in attendance sought answers from the Democratic senator regarding Trump’s pick for the Supreme Court. McCaskill has been taking flack over the issue, but explained to Farm Bureau members that she was taking just as long as she did with the last Justice appointment, saying she was reviewing the decisions from the nominee Brett Kavanaugh to see how he stood on the issues of dark money, the Citizens United decision, and how he ruled in “David vs. Goliath” issues.
Despite her candid remarks, it proved to be an uphill battle, with the organization announcing an hour later that Hawley would be their endorsed candidate.
“Josh Hawley has continuously proven his leadership and dedication to the people of Missouri by taking on ‘the big and the powerful,’ but even better, he has proven he is dedicated to protecting our farms and family businesses,” said Blake Hurst, Missouri Farm Bureau President. “He has earned the endorsement of our PAC trustees. He is a proven leader and will be a tremendous addition to the U.S. Senate.”
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.