In August 2017, Josh Hawley, a 38-year-old recently elected Republican attorney general in Missouri, announced his bid for Senate. Just over a year later, he has defeated one of the Senate’s most resilient incumbents, Claire McCaskill (D-MO), who conceded the election late Tuesday night.
Boosted by two late visits from President Trump, who won the state in 2016 by 19 percentage points, Hawley proved that the conservative bent of the state meant Missourians no longer wanted a moderate Democrat to represent them.
His campaign, like many GOP bids around the country, hinged on tethering McCaskill to leaders of the Democratic Party, epitomized by a bus in which he toured the state and that featured images of Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-NY) and House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-CA). Hawley also frequently reminded voters that McCaskill did not vote for either of President Trump’s Supreme Court picks, decisions he deemed to be out of step with the desires of the state.
McCaskill countered his criticisms by pointing out where she had voted with the president, castigating some of her party’s base as “crazy Democrats,” and accurately pointing out that as attorney general, Hawley signed on to a lawsuit to repeal the Affordable Care Act. He maintained that he supported protecting health-care insurers’ coverage of pre-existing conditions, despite his actions to do the opposite.
Hawley was still rewarded by voters Tuesday, as another moderate Democrat in a red state was defeated.