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Our Opinion: As summer heats up, so does 2018 U.S. Senate race

Our Opinion: As summer heats up, so does 2018 U.S. Senate race

July 28th, 2017 by News Tribune in Opinion

It's more than a year away, but political observers already are watching what looks to be a riveting U.S. Senate race in 2018.

Incumbent Sen. Claire McCaskill, a Democrat, is trying to position herself as a moderate while raising money to stave off an expected GOP challenger.

She recently held 10 town hall meetings in Missouri, where she, among other things, supported the Trump administration's proposal to roll back the Environmental Protection Agency's controversial "Waters of the United States" regulation.

Republicans retorted that the position was "election-year posturing" and not reflective of her true liberal agenda.

McCaskill herself appears to know that her job is in jeopardy.

She routinely sends out emails seeking contributions, such as one saying eight "right-wing groups are already running ads attacking me. Our race in Missouri is ONE OF JUST THREE TOSS-UP RACES, according to Larry Sabato's Crystal Ball. We need to raise $15,000 by tomorrow night to hit our monthly goal."

It didn't help that she recently drew herself into the Trump-Russia controversy by posting something untrue on her Twitter account: "No call or meeting w/Russian ambassador. Ever."

It turns out that her previous Tweets showed that she spoke with Russian Ambassador Sergey Kislyak at least twice. And CNN reported she attended a reception at his house in 2015.

The National Republican Senatorial Committee has stepped up its criticism of her.

Republicans smell blood, and they've rallied around Missouri's new attorney general, Josh Hawley, urging him to take on McCaskill.

In 2012, McCaskill trounced Todd Akin, the last Republican to challenge her, when his campaign imploded after he said that that abortion isn't needed in rape situations because, "If it's legitimate rape, the female body has ways to try to shut the whole thing down."

Hawley, a rising political star, has the support of Vice President Mike Pence as well as all four of Missouri's Republican former U.S. senators, according to the St. Louis Post-Dispatch. Hawley is keeping his political plans close to his vest, but the paper said his campaign spending — nearly $170,000 over the past few months — could indicate otherwise.

The race may not be on the radar of the average voter yet, who, understandably, need healing time between elections. But the race has huge implications for Missouri's representation in Congress. It's not too early to study potential candidates and their positions.