After pledging not to use one office to get to another, Missouri A.G. Hawley challenging McCaskill for U.S. Senate

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U.S. SENATOR CLAIRE McCASKILL (D-MO) talks with newly-elected Missouri Attorney General Josh Hawley during the Governor’s Ham Breakfast at the Missouri State Fair in Sedalia on Aug. 17. Hawley, who had no prior political experience, announced his candidacy last week for McCaskill’s U.S. Senate seat despite his campaign pledge to complete his full term if elected. – Charlie Riedel/AP photo

Tied to RTW proponent David Humphreys

By TIM ROWDEN

Editor

To the surprise of absolutely no one, Josh Hawley, Missouri’s Republican attorney general and beneficiary of campaign donations from “right-to-work” proponent David Humphreys’ announced his candidacy recently for the U.S. Senate seat held by U.S. Senator Claire McCaskill.

Hawley is just 10 months into his first term in his very first elected office. McCaskill, seeking a third term in the U.S. Senate, is one of the Senate’s strongest fighters for working families.

Hawley won the attorney general’s race last year, in part, with a campaign commercial in which he shamed “career politicians” for “just climbing the ladder, using one office to get another,” but he had been rumored to be considering a Senate run for months.

Hawley announced his candidacy, in part, with a video, in which he talked vaguely about jobs, taxes and health care costs and – ignoring the other announced candidates in the race – took aim at McCaskill, accusing her of turning her back on farmers and ignoring working families.

REALLY?!

When most Missouri Republicans talk about their concern for working families, you know they’re feeding you a line. It would be almost laughable if the same populist jibber jabber hadn’t worked so well in last year’s elections.

Working families and a disconcerting percentage of union members voted Republican in 2016’s state and federal elections, catapulting Donald Trump and Missouri’s “right-to-work” political coward Governor Eric Greitens into office, along with Hawley and a majority of Republicans in the Missouri Legislature and U.S. House and Senate.

THE HUMPHREYS' CONNECTION

Humphreys and his family spent more than $11 million to elect Greitens, Hawley and Republican legislators willing to pass this year’s “right-to-work” legislation.

But his interest in Missouri politics doesn’t end with “right-to-work.” Humphreys, the CEO of Joplin-based TAMKO Building Products, is also interested in buying legislators willing to neuter the Missouri Merchandising Practices Act, the state’s consumer-protection law.

That’s because, in addition to wanting to obliterate unions, Humphreys is facing a class action lawsuit involving allegedly defective shingles sold by his company.

Humphreys and his family were particularly generous to Greitens for his “right-to-work” stance and Hawley, who as attorney general would have the power to intervene in class action lawsuits. In December, after Greitens and Hawley won their races, the Humphreys family gave each of them another $1 million.

DENY, DENY, ADMIT

While he campaigned on a promise not to use his office as a stepping stone and denied he was considering a Senate run, Hawley formed an exploratory committee in August, which allowed him to begin raising money under Federal Election Commission guidelines. The national conservative super PAC “Club for Growth” – which supports a repeal of the estate tax for the country’s wealthiest families, social safety net “reforms,” so-called free trade, tort reform, school choice, and deregulation – already had raised $10 million as of August for Hawley’s then still unannounced campaign.

Hawley reportedly talked last month with Steve Bannon, the former Trump adviser associated with the populist-nationalist movement the makes up the most conservative parts of Trump’s base, and was rewarded with fawning coverage on Breitbart.com, Bannon’s conservative news website, which has emerged as a particularly popular platform with the white-nationalist alt-right.

McCASKILL IS A FRIEND OF WORKING FAMILIES

McCaskill, long a friend of working families, first took office before Missouri’s shift in recent years from a battleground state to a solid-red Republican stronghold. She will face a tough race regardless of who wins the Republican nomination, and is widely considered one of the Senate’s most vulnerable incumbents.

McCaskill spent much of this summer visiting rural Missouri counties — Trump strongholds — listening to constituents and trying to blunt the GOP’s intentionally distorted depiction of her as a liberal elitist. She conducted her 44th town hall last week in Washington, MO.

“There’s no way Washington, D.C. will work for Missouri, unless Missourians’ voices are being heard,” McCaskill said. “That’s why it’s so important that I be in every corner of our state, listening and learning. Every Missourian who tells me their ideas and concerns, or speaks their mind, makes me better equipped to fight for them every day in the Senate.”

McCaskill has not shied away from difficult audiences or difficult issues, hosting town halls in traditionally conservative areas of the state to talk about the Affordable Care Act, the opioid epidemic, the effect of so-called postal reforms on rural communities and a host of other issues.

Her Campaign Manager David Kirby released the following statement in response to Hawley’s candidacy.

“Since taking office in January, Josh Hawley has proven to be the worst type of politician. He broke his promise not to climb the political ladder. He broke his promise to create a Public Corruption Unit to crack down on the pay-to-play culture of Jefferson City. He lied about whether he would live in Jefferson City, as the law requires. And he lied for nearly two months about whether he was running for Senate. We applaud Josh for coming clean about his intention to run and look forward to contrasting his record of broken promises with Claire’s record of listening to Missourians and breaking through gridlock to get things done for them.”

The Missouri Democratic Party also released a statement accusing Hawley of lying about his intentions.

“Two months ago, Josh Hawley filed paperwork to run for United States Senate – and then lied to Missourians about it while he raised money behind closed doors with millionaires, DC special interests, and Republican leaders in Washington,” said party spokeswoman Meira Bernstein. “It’s clear who Josh Hawley is running to represent in the United States Senate, and it’s not Missouri.”

OTHER CANDIDATES

Other declared Republican Senate candidates in Missouri include 2016 Libertarian presidential candidate Austin Petersen; Tony Monetti, a retired Air Force pilot and assistant dean at the University of Central Missouri Aviation Department; and Courtland Sykes, a Navy veteran recently of Arkansas, who moved to Missouri less than a year ago.

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