JEFFERSON CITY, Mo. – Recent news about Attorney General Josh Hawley’s potential run for U.S. Senate continues to leave voters with questions about the status of the Republican’s intentions. Just last week, it was announced that Hawley was forming an exploratory committee for a possible bid against U.S. Sen. Claire McCaskill.
“It’s really not official, he’s still playing around with an exploratory committee. Either start a pot, or get out of the kitchen,” Sen. Jamilah Nasheed said.
For some time now, people have been asking if Hawley will run, and he has seemed reluctant to answer that question. But is he reluctant to run?
That was the question put before the panel on This Week in Missouri Politics, and the general consensus seems to be that Hawley, in truth, did not have any intentions of running for the U.S. Senate seat, but may do so at the urging of his party.
“I definitely think he’s the right guy for the job. I think the whole party is kind of behind him,” Rep. Tom Hannegan said. “I think he’s sincere that he’s like “I’m here for the people’ and he didn’t want to be that career politician, and I truly believe that. But I believe there’s a lot of pressure saying ‘you are the right man’ and sometimes people need that extra push, that convincing.”
“I’ve been unbelievably impressed by him,” Steve Tilley of Strategic Capitol Consulting said. “I’ve dealt with a lot of candidates coming to you saying ‘I’m being urged to run, I’m being recruited’ and 99 percent of the time that’s crap. It means they want to run.
“I don’t think he necessarily wanted to run. I actually believe him. I think he ran to be the Attorney General, and I think he’s doing a great job, but I also think the party and people within the party’s number one goal is to beat Sen. McCaskill, and they look at the playing field to see who has the potential to do that, and he sits at the top. I think he is running with reservation because he wants to be Attorney General.”
Still others questioned Hawley’s motives, noting that the ad his campaign ran called out career politicians for using elections to “climb the ladder”, which some people is hypocritical on Hawley’s part, as he has not yet served one full year as the state’s Attorney General.
McCaskill’s camp was quick to respond to that ad, saying that by reaching for another rung of the “political ladder” months after winning his first elected office goes against his word.
“I think he is genuinely conflicted in wanting to do this,” Garrett Webb of COE Strategies said. “But looking at the ad that he ran, telling him that this is what you said, this is what you’re looking at for the next year, do you really want to do that or do you want to make a difference with some of the initiatives you began as Attorney General? That’s it. Stay as Attorney General because you’re not going to beat Claire McCaskill. We took the experiment of electing people without experience, and we see what that has brought us.”
Benjamin Peters was a reporter for The Missouri Times and Missouri Times Magazine and also produced 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.