Pence Wants Missouri AG to Challenge Sen. McCaskill

Josh Hawley won his first political office in 2016

Vice President Mike Pence is encouraging Missouri Attorney General Josh Hawley to run for Senate against Democratic Sen. Claire McCaskill.  (Photo By Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call)

Vice President Mike Pence is getting involved early in the Missouri Senate race, encouraging a run by a relative newcomer against Democratic Sen. Claire McCaskill.

Pence called Missouri Attorney General Josh Hawley over the weekend to encourage him to run for the Senate, a spokesman for Hawley confirmed Tuesday. Hawley was elected to the attorney general post in 2016, winning the primary and general election by double-digits. Previously he worked as a lawyer and associate professor at the University of Missouri Law School.

Missouri’s other Sen., Roy Blunt, and Pence reportedly went horseback riding over the weekend and “talked about a lot of things, including the Missouri Senate race,” Blunt told the Springfield News-Leader.  

Rep. Ann Wagner, who had previously been considered a top Republican contender to challenge McCaskill, announced she would seek reelection to the House in early July, leaving no obvious Republican to run for Senate. That’s brought more attention to Hawley’s potential run.

McCaskill is considered vulnerable in the 2018 election. Inside Elections with Nathan L. Gonzales rates the race a tossup. She has described herself as “the underdog” in the race despite being the incumbent. 

She also tried out an early line of attack on Hawley, referring to an ad he released in his Attorney General race criticizing politicians who just use “one office to get another.” 

“It seems weird to me that you’d do a whole commercial trying to convince people you’re not a politician and not going to immediately run for another office, and then 10 minutes later, you’re running for another office,” McCaskill said. “I think that’s the definition of a stone-cold politician.”

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