October 19, 2018

2018 Midterm Showdown for the Senate

Standing champion Claire McCaskill vs. up-and-coming Josh Hawley

If you’ve turned on the television in the last two months, you know election season is upon us. You’ve seen countless advertisements trying to lift up or tear down candidates and ballot initiatives. In fact, we are less than 40 short days away from the hotly contested midterm elections, and those advertisements show no sign of slowing down.

I am no stranger to politics or campaigning. I spent most of my childhood knocking on doors and passing out yard signs for my dad who sat on my small hometown city council for well over a decade.

Things can get nasty in politics. Even folks in small town politics aren’t immune to personal attacks. I remember being in middle school and seeing anonymous discussion board posts warning that I may go missing from my school bus stop because of my dad’s votes.

Some of the advertisements we see on television and online during election season reflect that kind of nastiness on a much larger scale.

You know the type of ad I’m talking about. You’ve seen them, whether during the commercials for your favorite show or on your social media timeline. Many of them target Senator Claire McCaskill, Missouri’s vulnerable Democratic senator.

I know Senator McCaskill and her policies well. I’ve recently interned for her St. Louis government office. I spent much of my time answering phone calls and recording constituent comments. I got to hear out the DACA debate and the especially contentious debate on healthcare last year.

Some of the advertisements you’ve seen have been paid for by Josh Hawley and his campaign to defeat McCaskill. Many have been paid for by dark money special interests she has fought so tirelessly against.

They include candid pictures of McCaskill, edited to make her look especially gruesome. They are often alongside pictures of other notable female Democrats like Nancy Pelosi and Hillary Clinton. They try desperately to draw a connection between McCaskill and hardline liberal politics.

Thankfully, fact checkers at publications across the state and country have managed to monitor and rebut some of the more outlandish claims against her.

Some of my favorite attacks against McCaskill have been the most prominent ones utilized by the Republicans and the Hawley campaign. They include her positions on health care, immigration and her personal finances.

Many independent fact checkers at prominent Missouri papers, like the Post-Dispatch and Kansas City Star, have already tackled the outrageous claims made by the Hawley campaign.

Ads attacking McCaskill and her husband have been called “totally misleading” by the Kansas City Star editorial board. The ads insinuate McCaskill votes to line her husband’s pockets with money, when in reality her votes provide subsidies for low-income housing. McCaskill’s husband, Joseph Shepard, works in providing low-income housing. The Kansas City Star reports that there’s no proof Shepard or McCaskill have seen profits from her votes supporting low-income housing.

The Kansas City Star also disputes claims that McCaskill is weak on protecting victims of domestic violence and sexual abuse. These are perhaps some of the most ridiculous claims. McCaskill has been a constant advocate for these survivors. She’s won awards and has been drawn by artists at Marvel as a ‘Senator of Steel’ for her work on the issue.

Attacks based on McCaskill’s immigration stances are just as weak. She’s one of the only Democrats endorsed by the National Border Patrol Council, an organization that also endorsed Donald Trump in the 2016 election. As the ranking member of the Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee, she has been known to fight for more advanced technology to help protect our border as opposed to a poorly conceived and executed wall.

McCaskill has also been a major advocate for the passage and strengthening of the Affordable Care Act (ACA). She has advocated for Missourians with pre-existing conditions and stands in stark contrast with her opponent, Hawley, who is a major voice in the GOP lawsuit to end protections for pre-existing conditions. She has spoken of her regrets in regard to the partisan way the ACA was passed through the Senate but has never backed down from her conviction that the ACA has done some real good in Missouri.

All eyes are on us this election season. Our race for the Senate will be one that is crucial in determining which political party has control of the Senate come January. Thus, outside spending has been incredible – leading to more and more ads that can be traced back to special interests and outside spenders.

McCaskill has proven she doesn’t care if you vote for her or against her. She fights for the majority of Missourians whether she disappoints her colleagues on the right or the left. She’s had our backs since 2007 when we first sent her to Washington, and I hope regardless of petty attack ads we will have her back in November.

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