COLUMBIA, Mo. — Yesterday, the St. Louis Post-Dispatch Editorial Board slammed Josh Hawley for running a campaign devoid of substance, noting that Hawley has “minimal credentials with which to convince voters that he can be more effective as a senator than McCaskill.” The Editorial Board also called Hawley out for trying to distract from his disappointing record as Attorney General by lobbing disingenuous attacks against Senator McCaskill, saying that “McCaskill’s voting record is about as centrist as it gets, and Hawley knows it.”
Missouri Attorney General Josh Hawley, the likely GOP U.S. Senate nominee, miscalculates by focusing his campaign strategy on attacking incumbent Democratic Sen. Claire McCaskill, portraying her as a flaming leftist out of touch with Missouri’s mainstream. McCaskill’s voting record is about as centrist as it gets, and Hawley knows it.
His exaggerations, primarily aimed at pressuring her ahead of the Senate confirmation vote of Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh, mask a much more profound weakness in the young attorney general’s background: his own lack of experience. He has minimal credentials with which to convince voters that he can be more effective as a senator than McCaskill. So his only option is to deflect. Missourians shouldn’t fall for it.
…His record as attorney general has been only mildly impressive. He was a latecomer in challenging the multiple abuses that put then-Gov. Eric Greitens on a track toward impeachment. Hawley seemed conflicted on where to focus his energies — on running for Senate, or actually doing his job.
…Even when he was willing to go after Greitens, Hawley waited until it was politically safe to do so, after key GOP legislators had already made clear their intentions to pursue Greitens’ misconduct aggressively.
…Mainstream Missourians are far more selective and centrist in their Senate choices than Hawley gives them credit for. “Our way of life,” as he phrases Missouri values, is far from the hard-right side of the political spectrum.
If Missourians are souring on Hawley, it probably reflects their revulsion with Trump’s extremist rhetoric and Hawley’s refusal to challenge it. They want to know what he stands for.
If Hawley wants to move his sagging poll numbers, he’ll need to move away from the extremist fringe and give Missouri’s mainstream something of substance to chew on.