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McCaskill, Hawley cruise to victory in Missouri primaries

McCaskill, Hawley cruise to victory in Missouri primaries
© Greg Nash

Sen. Claire McCaskillClaire Conner McCaskillGOP Senate candidate: Kavanaugh 'debacle' 'hugely motivating' to Missouri voters Democrats hold fading odds of winning Senate this November Cornyn: 'All the money in the world' won't help O'Rourke win Texas MORE (D) and state Attorney General Josh Hawley (R) coasted to victory in their respective primaries in Missouri on Tuesday night, setting up a contentious battle for McCaskill's Senate seat in November. 

McCaskill is considered one of the most vulnerable Democrats in the Senate. Missouri went to President TrumpDonald John TrumpTrump: 'I don't trust everybody in the White House' JPMorgan CEO withdraws from Saudi conference Trump defends family separations at border MORE by almost 19 points in 2016, and polls have shown the race to be a tight one.

McCaskill on Tuesday night extended a debate challenge to Hawley, calling on him to participate in four town hall-style debates before the general election.

In the email announcing the challenge, McCaskill slammed Hawley as a candidate beholden to "dark money and special interest donors."  

"I've held public town halls with Missourians throughout my time as senator - including more than 50 across the state since 2017," McCaskill wrote in the email. "Missourians deserve the same chance to ask you questions and hear your answers as they have consistently had with me."

"Hawley, the Republican nominee, has yet to hold a single public town hall, where any Missourian can attend and ask him any question," she added. "Instead, Hawley has opted to answer questions from his dark money and special interest donors behind closed doors, where Missourians can't hear his answers unless they donate to his campaign."

Hawley has aligned himself with President Trump's agenda, last week tweeting that Trump "asked me to take back this Senate seat for Missourians."

"I promised him I would," Hawley wrote.

McCaskill, whose approval ratings are relatively low, has presented herself as a moderate Democrat, focusing on bipartisan issues such as health care, trade and the economy. Though she has faced tough reelection battles before, her challenge from Hawley is widely regarded as the most contentious so far.