Hawley rallies base in Joplin; McCaskill stop in wings

Senate candidate Josh Hawley gives a speech in October at the Veterans of Foreign Wars Post 534. 

Joplin-area Republicans offered mixed reactions Wednesday to U.S. Sen. Josh Hawley's stated intention to raise an objection to Electoral College certification of Joe Biden's victory in the presidential election.

"I fully support his challenge," state Sen. Bill White, R-Joplin, told the Globe. "There's enough evidence of voting irregularities in all the swing states."

White, like President Donald Trump, maintains that certain states did not follow their own voting laws and that various locations failed to maintain bipartisan observation of the tabulating of votes. White expressed particular concern with results reported in those locations "where they ushered Republicans out while the counting of votes continued."

"So, yes, I have concerns over the integrity of the election," he said.

On the other hand, former GOP state lawmaker Ron Richard, of Joplin, who served as an Electoral College elector for Missouri's 7th Congressional District, appeared to view Hawley's objection as possibly little more than a play for personal political gain.

"I don't know what he's up to," Richard said. "I guess he's running for president."

He said he would be more inclined to join in raising objections to the outcome of the election at this point if U.S. Sen. Roy Blunt, R-Mo., came to the conclusion that was warranted, referring to Blunt as "more the voice of reason" in the matter.

"As far as I'm concerned, what's done is done," Richard said.

Blunt's reaction to date would appear to be in line with Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell's request that Republican senators refrain from any effort to overturn the Electoral College results because the gesture has virtually no chance of succeeding with Democrats in control of the House.

Blunt released this comment Wednesday on Hawley's stated intentions: "I expect there to be a vigorous debate regarding any state where the electors are challenged by at least one House member and one senator. As one of the four members of Congress required to participate in the joint session, I will not be joining in any objection."

State Rep. Lane Roberts, R-Joplin, said that while he understands that there is a significant level of concern among voters with the legitimacy of the election's outcome, those in the party whose opinions he regards most highly appear to have concluded that there is insufficient evidence to push those concerns any further.

"So it is probably not a move I would make," Roberts said of Hawley's intention to challenge the electoral results.

Roberts said he considers the Electoral College to be "a critical piece of what makes our election process work," balancing the various interests of the states, and consequently, he feels great reluctance to support any effort to override its authority.

Nick Myers, chairman of Newton County Republican Central Committee, said because Hawley apparently has made his objection within the framework of the law, he supports "seeing the process through to the end."

"My reading is that the majority of Republicans in this area who gave President Trump a vast majority of votes would be glad to see that Sen. Hawley is taking this through the entire process," Myers said.

Myers said he also believes there were a number of irregularities in voting this election. He would have preferred that the legislators in those states would address those problems themselves. But he applauds Hawley for doing what he can at this point to express the concerns of voters in the Joplin area.

'Malarkey'

Missouri Democratic Party Chair Michael Butler on Sen. Josh Hawley's announcement that he'll object to certification of President-elect Joe Biden's victory:

"President-elect Joe Biden won a fair and free election, winning both the popular vote and the Electoral College. It's past time to stop with the malarkey and move forward with a peaceful transition of power. Refusing to listen to the will of Americans and slowing this transition or refusing to work with the Biden transition team is dangerous and irresponsible."

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