Claire McCaskill (D-Mo.)

U.S. Senator (since 2007)

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Why She Matters

McCaskill wasted no time establishing herself in Congress after her 2006 election victory, challenging the Democratic leadership on issues such as earmarks and hitching her star to the Democratic Party's new standard-bearer, President Barack Obama.

Loquacious and fiercely independent, McCaskill has generated the kind of hushed respect on Capitol Hill usually reserved for veteran lawmakers. After one legislative fight in 2007, Sen. Carl M. Levin (D-Mich.) admiringly referred to her as a "human buzz saw."

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Sen. McCaskill sends out ‘unprecedented’ survey about campus rape to colleges

Sen. Claire McCaskill seeks extensive data from college presidents on how sexual assault is reported, handled and prosecuted on the nation’s campuses.

Sen. McCaskill asks: Where’s the oversight?

McCaskill noted during a hearing that 41 small agencies with a combined budget of $1 billion have no dedicated inspectors general.

McCaskill wants info from Education, Justice on campus sexual assaults

The former prosecutor has sent letters to the Attorney General and Education Secretary requesting in-person briefings.

Official Loop Quote of the Week winner: Claire McCaskill

Claire McCaskill’s honest assessment of her relationship with Hillary Clinton wins Loop Quote of the Week

McCaskill wants info from Education, Justice on campus sexual assaults

Sen. Claire McCaskill lays the groundwork for her next battle -- fighting sexual assault on the nation’s campuses.

McCaskill: Rift with Hillary Clinton “overblown”

Sen. Claire McCaskill, who endorsed Barack Obama over Hillary Clinton in 2008, has already pledged her support should the former secretary of state run for president in 2016.

Carter, McCaskill join White House efforts to fight sexual assaults on campus

(Don Bartletti / Los Angeles Times)

Former president Jimmy Carter and Sen. Claire McCaskill are among those bringing attention to the issue of sexual assault on the nation’s college campuses.


At a Glance

  • Career History: Missouri Auditor (1999 to 2007); Jackson County prosecutor (1993 to 1999); Jackson County legislature (1991 to 1993)
  • Birthday: July 24, 1953
  • Hometown: Rolla, Mo.
  • Alma Mater: University of Missouri, B.A. (political science), 1975; University of Missouri, J.D., 1978
  • Spouse: Joseph Shepard
  • Religion: Roman Catholic
  • DC Office: SH-717 Hart Senate Office Building, 202-224-6154
  • State Office: Cape Girardeau, 573-651-0964; Columbia, 573-442-7130; Kansas City, 816-421-1639; Springfield, 417-868-8745; St. Louis, 314-367-1364

Path to Power

McCaskill was born July 24, 1953, in Rolla, Mo., and was the second of four children. Her father, William, worked in the insurance industry, and the family was active in the state Democratic Party. McCaskill's mother, Betty, was the first woman ever elected to the city council of Columbia, Mo., and was known for blowing the whistle on secret council shenanigans. William spent some time in public office as well, serving as the state insurance commissioner for Democratic Gov. Warren Hearnes.

McCaskill's political talents were evident early on, and in high school her aptitude for public speaking quickly came to the fore. When she was in the 9th grade, McCaskill took the top prize in a speech contest with a screed against racial prejudice that began with an attention-grabbing recitation of a Klu Klux Klan pledge.

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The Issues

Missouri is America's perennial swing state, so McCaskill walks a fine line in the Senate.To keep the trust of her constituents back home, she must carefully maintain her centrist credentials. To that end, she has supported pocketbook issues such as child care and college tuition tax credits while fighting against earmark spending.

McCaskill is a supporter of abortion rights and opposed an amendment that banned gay marriages in Missouri in 2004. She often downplayed these positions during her 2006 Senate run. "It's time that we start reading the Bible instead of knocking people over the head with it," McCaskill said at the time.

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The Network

McCaskill maintains a close relationship with her former chief of staff, Sean Kennedy, who is one of her closest advisers and confidantes. Kennedy is now part of the Obama White House legislative affairs team.

McCaskill is still a relative newcomer in the Senate and has yet to form many close alliances with colleagues. Her one true connection - to President Obama - is enough to maker her a true power player in the Democratic Party.


Additional Resources

  1. Wagar, Kit, "Rural push lifts McCaskill to win," The Kansas City Star, August 4, 2004
  2. Murray, Shailagh, "A balancing act in the upper south," The Washington Post, Oct, 9, 2006
  3. Murray, Shailagh, "A balancing act in the upper south," The Washington Post, Oct, 9, 2006
  4. Kaplan, Jonathan E., "Campaign takes low road through crucial Missouri," The Hill, Nov. 1, 2006
  5. Pierce, Emily, "On the independent line, Claire McCaskill," Roll Call, Oct. 29, 2007
  6. McCaskill said. Cantanese, David, Politico, McCaskill will sell "the damn plane," March 21, 2011
  7. Montgomery, David, "Rush Limbaugh on the offensive against ad with Michael J. Fox," The Washington Post, Oct. 25, 2006
  8. LaMartina, Jerry, "McCaskill: Bailout plan 'stinks' but is 'best alternative,'" Kansas City Business Journal, Oct. 1, 2008
  9. Wong, Scott and Bresnahan, John, Politico, Claire McCaskill to pay back taxes on plane, March 22, 2011
  10. Taylor, Andrew, "Only 18 lawmakers shunned pet projects," The Associated Press, Feb. 13, 2008
  11. "McCaskill's ex-husband is found dead," St. Louis Post-Dispatch, Dec. 14, 2005
  12. Harris, Ron, and Shesgreen, Deirdre, "Claire McCaskill, low profile? Nope," St. Louis Post-Dispatch, March 11, 2007
  13. Slevin, Peter, "Age may be trump card in governor's race," The Washington Post, Oct. 24, 2004
  14. Goldberg, Jeffrey, "Central casting," The New Yorker, May 29, 2006
  15. Saulny, Susan, "Missouri candidates step lightly on stem cell measure," The New York Times, Oct. 15, 2006
  16. Young, Virginia, "Tracing the roots of the candidates," St. Louis Post-Dispatch, Oct. 24, 2004
  17. Goldstein, David, "A freshman in Washington; McCaskill is a loyal Democrat - usually," The Kansas City Star, May 4, 2007
  18. Young, Virginia, "McCaskill rules out Cabinet post," St. Louis Post-Dispatch, Oct. 20, 2008
  19. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=a9WB_PXjTBo
  20. "McCaskill and DNC: Enough already," The Kansas City Star, Nov. 11, 2008
  21. Lizza, Ryan, "The Bush-Cheney era ends here," New York Magazine, April 3, 2006
  22. Pierce, Emily, "On the independent line, Claire McCaskill," Roll Call, Oct. 29, 2007
  23. Washington Post Votes Database
  24. Goldstein, David, "McCaskill's star rises on Obama's coattails," The Kansas City Star, Nov. 21, 2008