As a neck-and-neck Missouri Senate race heads to the final stretch, Republican challenger Josh Hawley is targeting some effective attacks at two-term Democratic incumbent Claire McCaskill.
The race is a dead heat, with a RealClearPolitics average of several recent polls placing Hawley, the current state attorney general, ahead of McCaskill by a miniscule 0.4 point margin.
Another Coastal Dem
One might think Hawley would home in on McCaskill’s vote against confirming new Supreme Court Justice Brett Kavanaugh, given how ugly a spectacle the vicious Democrat campaign against Kavanaugh turned out to be. Instead, he is focusing on immigration, trying to use McCaskill’s own public statements to portray her as an enabler of illegal alien entry into America.
McCaskill has tried to position herself as someone who really does want to secure the border and merely finds the Trump administration’s demand to build a wall to be an ineffective way to do so. But Hawley has broken through the nuance by pointing out that McCaskill has haughtily mocked the Trump’s border wall as a fantasy. “It’s embarrassing,” McCaskill said in April 2017, according to a CBS News report. “It’s not going to happen. Everybody in Congress knows it’s not going to happen … It appears the only person who won’t say it out loud is the president.”
Scornful comments about the single biggest issue that helped President Trump win the presidency will score points against McCaskill, but her opponent Hawley found even better material to mine on the issue of the U.S. Census. McCaskill opposes the Trump administration’s move to place a question on the 2020 Census asking respondents to state their citizenship status. Hawley sees this issue as a way to label her as beholden to national Democratic Party interests over the well-being of the state of Missouri. This is how you win.
The once-every-10-years census determines the apportionment of representatives to Congress for each state. “Sen. McCaskill would love to give more representation to California. That’s what will happen,” Hawley told The Washington Times in an interview. “Places like California and New York that have greater numbers of illegal immigrants, they are going to end up with more representation, and we’ll lose seats. She is fine with that, though,” Hawley continued, “That just strikes people in Missouri as craziness. They just don’t understand it. I don’t understand it.”
While answering audience questions during a public appearance earlier this year, McCaskill lamented that Democrats in Congress could not prevent the administration from placing the question on the census. She then happily shared the news that the state of California was planning a lawsuit against the move, and went on to express the exact sentiments Hawley is now using against her:
“It is, I believe, blatantly partisan. I do believe they’re trying to suppress the count of Hispanic voters in this country. Because people are worried that somehow disclosing whether they are a citizen or not would mean whether or not they can be deported or members of their family can be deported. So it is unfortunate and I do think it is a brazen political move on the part of the Commerce Department.”
If being unable to count illegal aliens on the census grants a state more representation, and hence, more power and influence in Congress, then there is an obvious incentive for states to embrace ever-larger numbers of illegals. California is leading the nation in rolling out the welcome mat and Hawley should reap dividends by branding McCaskill as a California Democrat instead of a sensible voice for Missouri.
Hawley also released a campaign ad that again features the dismissive side of McCaskill to good effect. A voice-over introduces the ad by stating, “Claire McCaskill, caught on tape.” Then comes a feckless McCaskill saying to an audience, “If we do our job in St. Louis County, you know I can give up a few votes in the bootheel.” She is feeding into the very perception – based on reality – that Democrats are an urban party that cannot reach Americans who reside outside of a liberal cosmopolitan bubble.
St. Louis County is the most populous county in Missouri and borders the city of St. Louis, the second-largest city in the state after Kansas City. The ad should prove effective in further marrying McCaskill to the flaws that have plagued Democrats as they narrowed their message to a confined urbanite base of hardcore believers instead of expanding it among the mainstream of American voters.
The best way for Republicans to win elections today is to rigidly tie their Democrat opponents to the discredited, broken national party agenda. By portraying McCaskill as a supporter of illegal immigration who is out of touch with rural Missourians, Hawley is doing just that.