Missouri Sen. Claire McCaskill is on the ropes, losing narrowly in recent polls to Republican Josh Hawley, the state’s current Attorney General, and she’s making an intriguing closing argument to voters: she’s a “normal” Democrat.
In a radio ad that began airing Monday, McCaskill instructs voters to judge her on her record, and not on which party she belongs to, adding that she’s not “one of those crazy Democrats,” though she doesn’t list the “crazy” Democrats by name (even though we’re all wondering).
CNN reports that McCaskill’s push is part of a wider overture on the part of her campaign, trying to convince voters that they shouldn’t punish the longtime-senator for the sins of her colleagues. The campaign is also admitting that McCaskill might not be the most likable choice for Missouri’s Senate seat, but that’s she’s, at least, proven she can be an effective legislator.
“In a new television ad released Tuesday by McCaskill’s campaign, featuring veterans who support McCaskill, one man says of the incumbent senator, ‘you don’t have to like her,’ before pushing back on Republican lines of attack and praising her work in the Senate,” CNN reports.
The ad then targets Hawley, recalling photos of the AG that appeared earlier in October, showing him visiting the gym and grabbing a bottle of wine while technically on the clock.
“I don’t always agree with Claire McCaskill,” one man says in the spot. “But she works hard, fighting against those tariffs, doing all those town halls. Claire’s not afraid to stand up against her own party.”
The ad is most definitely a risk. For starters, McCaskill is definitely a Democrat, and she rarely works on bipartisan legislation, according to most trackers. She’s not a moderate by any stretch, and she has been openly opposed to the Trump aministration’s agenda. And like most Democrats up for seats in November, she committed a cardinal sin: opposing the nomination of Supreme Court Justice Brett Kavanaugh, though she shied away from blaming Kavanaugh for a decades-old sexual assault.
But the ad is designed to convince moderate Democrats, who might have supported Trump in 2016, and aren’t interested in McCaskill’s message, that they can put their trust in McCaskill without fully committing to the Democratic Party. She’s tried a number of strategies to connect with these “red state” and blue-collar Democrats, including an ill-fated “bus tour” of more remote locations in Missouri that saw McCaskill follow the campaign bus from town to town, but in a private plane.
In a sense, this ad is the “Hail Mary” pass: a last-ditch effort to convince Missouri voters that McCaskill can run against her own party, by running against her own party.
That’s sure to ruffle some feathers, too. According to CNN, Democrats in Missouri aren’t happy about McCaskill’s name-calling, and feel she’s selling out her core constituency to gain swing votes.
“[She] is calling her base in the urban areas crazy Democrats,” one local Democratic politician told CNN, “and she’s relying on those so-called crazy Democrats to make sure she wins.”
McCaskill is currently running slightly behind her Republican opponent — a strange development considering that McCaskill, at one point, enjoyed a comfortable lead that should have guaranteed her re-election.