Josh Hawley (R), the Missouri attorney general, denied Democratic Sen. Claire McCaskill a third term, beating her in a state Donald Trump won by more than 18 points in 2016.
McCaskill had tried to paint herself as a moderate and attacked Hawley over a lawsuit to end the Affordable Care Act, but she couldn’t overcome the conservative lean of the state and her vote against Brett M. Kavanaugh’s Supreme Court nomination.
McCaskill’s defeat improves what is looking like a good night for Senate Republicans.
McCaskill was one of the most vulnerable Senate Democrats in the closely contested race. McCaskill’s campaign touted her ability to work with Republicans as well as her desire to work with Trump. “Claire’s not one of those crazy Democrats,” a recent radio ad said. “She works right in the middle and finds compromise.” She has shown support for some of Trump’s policies, like securing the border.
Hawley, who embraced Trump’s views on trade, immigration and health care, had painted McCaskill as a “party-line liberal,” citing her vote against Kavanaugh. “I will fight for the Supreme Court,” he said in a campaign ad. “It’s the last line of defense for our values.” Hawley, a former clerk for Chief Justice John G. Roberts Jr., emphasized his support for Kavanaugh.
Hawley had also joined a coalition of Republican governors and attorneys general in 20 states in a federal lawsuit to dismantle the 2010 Affordable Care Act.
The lawsuit argued that the law — which mandated that insurers cover people with preexisting medical conditions but also included a controversial mandate that nearly everyone purchase insurance — is no longer constitutional because Congress last year repealed a tax penalty for those forgoing insurance.
Nevertheless, Hawley aired a sympathetic ad using the affliction of his 5-year-old son, diagnosed this year with a rare bone disease, as evidence of his commitment to protect Americans with preexisting conditions.
McCaskill has also attacked him for not opposing Trump’s tariffs, which she said has hurt farmers in the state’s conservative-leaning rural areas.
Republicans viewed Missouri, where the majority of likely voters approve of the job Trump is doing, as a prime pickup opportunity to maintain or add to their 51-to-49 Senate majority.
Trump refers to Hawley as a “star” and has campaigned for him several times, including in the closing days of midterm campaigning.
Following Monday night’s rally in Cape Girardeau, Trump declared on Twitter that Hawley would be a “tireless champion for YOU. He is great on jobs, great on tax cuts, and tough on crime. He shares your values, and he will always support our Military, Vets and Police! Get out tomorrow and VOTE for Josh!!”