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story.lead_photo.caption In this March 28, 2018 photo, Republican U.S. Senate candidate Josh Hawley, of Missouri, speaks at his Columbia, Mo., campaign office. (AP Photo/Summer Ballentine)

NEW YORK (AP) -- A Missouri Republican is warning voters that "our way of life is at risk" in a new television ad that seizes on the Supreme Court vacancy to mobilize voters against Democratic Sen. Claire McCaskill.

The ad campaign, among the first of its kind in the fight for control of Congress this fall, underscores the immediate political impact of the Supreme Court nomination debate. President Donald Trump is scheduled to announce his pick Monday night. The subsequent nomination debate will play out for several weeks, if not months, and is expected to energize Republican voters in key Senate races, particularly states like Missouri, Indiana, West Virginia and North Dakota where Senate Democrats are fighting for re-election.

Missouri Republican Senate Josh Hawley, the state attorney general who previously clerked for Chief Justice John Roberts, began running the new ad on Monday.

"The eyes of the nation are on Missouri. We decide which values control the Senate, and the Supreme Court," Hawley says in the ad, his campaign's first television spot of the year. He added: "I know our way of life is at risk."

Trump's pick is subject to confirmation in the Senate, where Republicans currently hold a two-vote majority.

Even before Supreme Court Justice Anthony Kennedy announced his retirement, McCaskill was facing a difficult path to re-election in a state that Trump carried by nearly 20 points. Her campaign charged on Monday that Hawley's new ad mischaracterized her record by saying she votes like a liberal.

"Josh Hawley can try to mislead Missouri voters all he wants, but that won't change Claire's clear record of working across the aisle to get things done for Missourians," McCaskill spokesman Eric Mee said.

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