By John Celock
Missouri’s first term Republican attorney general has announced his bid against a Democratic senator and become the nation’s youngest senator.
Attorney General Josh Hawley, 37, released a video on Twitter Sunday formally kicking off his long awaited announcement challenging two term Sen. Claire McCaskill. Hawley, who was first elected to the attorney general’s office last year, has long been mentioned as a likely challenger to McCaskill.
“You would have thought that this last election would have gotten the some folks attention in DC, maybe not,” Hawley said in a video with his wife, Erin, and their children. “The DC career crowd keeps on doing the same old thing and you know the system works pretty well for them, they’re connected.”
Hawley said that Missouri residents keep seeing their health care costs and taxes go up and that farmers are hurting. He said that McCaskill has been in Washington “forever” and said that she has been wrong on most issues, including health care and the Supreme Court.
McCaskill was first elected to the Senate in 2006, unseating one term Sen. Jim Talent (R). McCaskill served as state auditor and Jackson County prosecutor before winning her Senate seat. She was the unsuccessful Democratic gubernatorial nominee in 2004. McCaskill won a second term in 2012 against Republican Todd Akin.
Hawley, a constitutional law professor, captured the open attorney general’s seat in 2016, and had been thought to be aiming for a federal judgeship long term. He was recruited into the Senate race by former Sen. John Danforth (R) and other Missouri GOP leaders, ending the likely Senate campaign of U.S. Rep. Ann Wagner. Wagner, a former Missouri GOP chairwoman and ambassador to Luxembourg, is instead seeking reelection to her suburban St. Louis congressional seat.
Hawley faced controversy shortly after taking office with Democrats claiming that he did not meet the state constitution’s requirement for the attorney general to reside in Jefferson City. Hawley, who lives in a nearby county, said that the constitution required him to keep his office in Jefferson City and that he lived in commuting distance.
McCaskill has long been viewed as one of the more vulnerable Democrats in the Senate, with the national GOP targeting her in 2012, prior to Akin’s campaign imploding over controversial comments on rape. The Missouri Senate race is viewed again as competitive in 2018, coming two years after Republican swept every statewide office on the ballot.
If elected, Hawley would become the nation’s youngest senator, replacing 40-year-old Arkansas Sen. Tom Cotton (R).
In his video, Hawley touches on what has been mentioned as his initial reluctance to seek the Senate seat and instead focus on the attorney general’s office, saying that he did not initially plan to run for the Senate next year.
“We need to do all we can for the future of the country,” he said.