Can the GOP Gain Senate Seats in States Trump Won? The Latest from Missouri By Phillip Howard

Can the GOP Gain Senate Seats in States Trump Won? The Latest from Missouri By Phillip Howard

There are 10 states that Donald Trump won in the 2016 with Democratic incumbent Senators facing reelection. Senator Claire McCaskill (D-MO), who is among the most vulnerable of this group, faces a strong challenger in Josh Hawley (R).

Hawley is currently Attorney General of Missouri, defeating Teresa Hensley last year, 59 percent to 41 percent. Born in Lexington, Hawley studied history at Stanford University, followed by Yale Law School. Hawley clerked for the U.S. 10th Circuit Court of Appeals and the U.S. Supreme Court under Chief Justice John Roberts. Hawley is a practicing attorney and professor at the University of Missouri School of Law.

 Photo by Bill Greenblatt/UPI

Photo by Bill Greenblatt/UPI

Hawley won the GOP primary with 59 percent of the vote, while his closest challengers, Tony Monetti and Austin Petersen, each received less than 10 percent in a closed primary.

Hawley is campaigning on a platform of “constitutional conservatism,” a variant of conservative populism. Religious liberty is a major focus in appealing to conservative Christian voters and calling for lesser restrictions on church officials.

Though Hawley is well behind in fundraising, polls show the race is currently a dead heat (examples here & here). Both candidates are polling around 47 percent.

Two issues of importance to Missouri voters are health care and the economy. Hawley recently published an op-ed calling for the end of the Affordable Care Act, claiming that “millions of Americans have lost their health care plans” while “insurance companies are posting massive profits, thanks in part to open-ended payments from the federal government.” Hawley is critical of a minimum wage proposition that is set to incrementally raise Missouri’s minimum wage, up to $12 per hour by 2023.

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Senator McCaskill has been silent on the nomination of Brett Kavanaugh to the Supreme Court, drawing the ire of some progressives following last week’s dramatic confirmation hearings. McCaskill is awaiting the release of further documents before deciding how to vote. She has been a target of the Trump administration on the campaign trail.

Dave Robertson, Professor and Chair of Department of Political Science at the University of Missouri-St. Louis, contends the election is gaining national attention “because it has been seen by leaders of both parties as a seat where a Democratic incumbent could be defeated, and that a defeat of McCaskill could help the Republicans hold a slim majority in the U.S. Senate.” This election “matters a lot because only the Senate confirms presidential nominees for positions in the Cabinet and on federal courts.”

 

Phillip Howard is a graduate student at Utica College

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