Our View

When marking the ballot for the U.S. Senate race between Democratic incumbent Claire McCaskill and Republican challenger Josh Hawley, voters will make their decision based on their own feelings of constituency criteria.

Some will choose a candidate who they think will best represent Southwest Missouri and be available to offer help to constituents as well as direct the passage of legislation that benefits our area. Others may vote for the Senate candidate who they think will best represent the entirety of the state of Missouri. Still, others will focus on national issues, how they expect the candidate to vote and how he or she will define the makeup of the Senate.

In our view, neither Hawley nor McCaskill fit the bill in all three categories. Here’s how we believe they stack up.

Southwest Missouri

It’s no surprise that Josh Hawley has made more campaign trips to our area. This is his base and he has received large financial support from donors here.

The 38-year-old former law clerk at the Supreme Court of the United States for Chief Justice John Roberts moved back to his home state of Missouri in 2011 and became an associate professor at the University of Missouri Law School, where he taught constitutional law, constitutional theory, legislation and torts. He successfully ran for state attorney general in 2016. His conservative viewpoints mesh with those of many in this corner of the state.

McCaskill, who has served in the U.S. Senate for the past 12 years, seldom travels to Joplin except during the campaign season. Her absence has been noticeable and will hurt her in Southwest Missouri, as it should, on Nov. 6.

Hawley, much like Sen. Roy Blunt, R-Mo., will likely be a familiar face in this area if he is elected. If your vote goes to the best candidate to represent Southwest Missouri, then we recommend Hawley.

Missouri

Before McCaskill ran for the U.S. Senate, she paid her dues as a state elected official. McCaskill, 65, a Rolla native, graduated from the University of Missouri and the University of Missouri School of Law.

She was a member of the state House from 1983 to 1989; the Jackson County prosecutor from 1993 to 1998; and was the state’s auditor from 1999 until 2007. She lost her bid to be governor in 2004, losing to Republican Matt Blunt, the son of Missouri’s other U.S. senator, Roy Blunt.

Hawley would be a better candidate if he had more state government experience. In fact, we hardly know him because Hawley, within months of winning the office of attorney general, was already a presumed Senate candidate.

We felt duped. Especially considering he campaigned as a candidate who would not try to climb the political ladder.

He also made a number of promises when he ran for the important state post about steps he would take in that office. We believed he would fill out his term as attorney general. But, by August 2017 he was actively campaigning for the Senate. Perhaps that’s why his pursuit of former Missouri Gov. Eric Greitens on both criminal and ethical allegations was weak at best.

His lack of experience stands out, especially in comparison to McCaskill’s much broader understanding of federal government. At the beginning of the 115th Congress, McCaskill was assigned to the Committee on Armed Services, Committee on Finance, Committee on Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs. She has used those positions to work collaboratively with Sen. Blunt to pass legislation that has been good for Missouri, particularly regarding veterans.

If you are voting for a candidate who can do best by the entire state, then we recommend voting for McCaskill.

The nation

If your vote in this race — one that has drawn money in from all quarters and is being considered one of the most important in the nation — is about the balance of party power in the Senate, then you have likely made up your mind and need read no further.

Moving Rs and Ds into position has defined this 2018 midterm election rather than the individual candidates. President Donald Trump and Vice President Mike Pence have both campaigned in Missouri on Hawley’s behalf, and he has aligned with the president on issues. The polls show Hawley supported by 45 percent of likely Missouri voters, and incumbent McCaskill supported by 44 percent. The poll was taken Sept. 27-Oct. 7.

Still, there are key issues that are making voters nervous — and they should.

Uncertainty about how Hawley will come down on protecting pre-existing conditions is of concern to Republicans and Democrats alike. Hawley signed onto a lawsuit that challenges the Affordable Care Act, and if successful could take away guarantees of pre-existing conditions. Hawley says he favors protecting pre-existing conditions, but describes the ACA as broken.

If a vote came up to scrap the ACA, we believe Hawley would vote “yes.” And so far, Republicans have not told us how they will safeguard one of the most important and transformative changes of the ACA. Americans with cancer, diabetes, heart disease and a long list of other pre-existing conditions should not have to worry about the future of their health care.

We are also concerned about the future of Social Security and Medicare. Especially in light of Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell’s comments earlier this month. He noted that the rising budget deficit is disturbing. We don’t disagree.

But then he said that “entitlement programs” were “the real drivers of the debt” and must be adjusted “to the demographics of the future.” There are different ways to read that, but it sounds like he’s proposing cuts to Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid.

Of course he can’t do that all by himself. He suggests that cuts must be done in a bipartisan fashion.

McCaskill can work across the aisle. She was among the top five most independent senators, voting against her party majority 18 percent of the time. And according to a Propublica report, McCaskill is the 10th-most likely U.S. senator to vote against party line, voting against the Democratic majority 16.9 percent of the time.

We recommend McCaskill as the best choice for Missouri and for our nation.

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