Campaign

Hawley doubles down on Supreme Court messaging against McCaskill

The Hill photo illustration

Missouri Attorney General Josh Hawley (R) has launched a new statewide digital ad that ties Sen. Claire McCaskill (D-Mo.) to Senate Democrats who oppose President Trump’s Supreme Court nominee.

The ad, which was shared first with The Hill, features clips of Senate Minority Leader Charles Schumer (D-N.Y.) as well as progressive Sens. Cory Booker (D-N.J.) and Kirsten Gillibrand (D-N.Y.) saying they’ll oppose Trump’s pick, Brett Kavanaugh, to replace Justice Anthony Kennedy.

All three senators support McCaskill, who’s running for reelection in one of the toughest Senate races this cycle.

Missouri, a state that President Trump won by nearly 20 points in 2016, could play a pivotal role in determining which party controls the upper chamber.

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“These are the partisan liberals Claire McCaskill campaigns with, fundraises with, and welcomes support from,” Kelli Ford, Hawley’s campaign spokeswoman, said in a statement.

“She can’t have it both ways: does she support the wishes of Missourians or will she act on the wishes of her most loyal, left-wing allies?”

Hawley is using the Supreme Court as a central theme in his Senate campaign and a wedge issue with McCaskill.

Hawley, who formerly clerked on the Supreme Court for Chief Justice John Roberts, launched his first television ad of the campaign on Monday. That ad also centered around the high court vacancy. In the ad, he calls on McCaskill “to make a break” with Schumer and support Trump’s pick.

McCaskill’s campaign pushed back on Hawley’s Supreme Court ad Monday, noting that McCaskill has voted for 76 percent of Trump’s judicial nominees.

Red state senators up for reelection, like McCaskill, are facing heavy pressure from both sides over Kavanaugh’s confirmation.

Voting for Trump’s pick could help burnish a more bipartisan image, but could also risk alienating the base, which is needed to win reelection.

McCaskill faces a situation similar to the one she was in regarding Trump’s last Supreme Court nomination of Justice Neil Gorsuch. Three senators up for reelection in Trump states ultimately voted to confirm Gorsuch, but McCaskill didn’t back him.

McCaskill hasn’t announced her decision and on Tuesday she sent an email to supporters asking them to fill out a survey on Kavanaugh’s nomination and the issues most important to them, according to The Associated Press.

Outside groups on both sides of the aisle have been pouring millions into Missouri’s Senate race.

Democrats’ Senate Majority PAC has already spent $6 million to boost McCaskill. The group’s latest six-figure ad criticizes Hawley’s record as state attorney general.

For Republicans, Missouri Rising, the local chapter of America Rising, is out Wednesday with a new seven-figure statewide TV buy that calls McCaskill “out-of-touch.” The ad will remain on the air for two weeks.

McCaskill also announced her second-quarter fundraising on Wednesday, which was her biggest haul of the cycle. She brought in $4.3 million and ended June with $12.2 million. Hawley has yet to release his fundraising number.

–Updated at 12 p.m.

Tags 2018 midterms Charles Schumer Claire McCaskill Cory Booker Donald Trump Kirsten Gillibrand Missouri red state Senate

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