Republican Senate hopeful Josh Hawley is launching a new digital campaign to highlight Missouri Democratic Sen. Claire McCaskill’s previous positions on Supreme Court nominees, as the latest high court vacancy shakes up competitive Senate races across the country.
A new website by the Hawley campaign is highlighting McCaskill’s support for former President Barack Obama’s judicial nominees, with less than a week before President Donald Trump is expected to name a replacement for the retiring Justice Anthony M. Kennedy. While Kennedy has often sided with the court’s conservative wing, he’s also been a pivotal swing vote on issues relating to abortion and same-sex marriage.
The website, shared first with Roll Call, outlines McCaskill record of supporting Obama’s nominees while opposing Trump’s first Supreme Court pick, Neil Gorsuch. McCaskill said at the time that she opposed Gorsuch because of his “rigid ideology that always puts the little guy under the boot of corporations.”
A Hawley campaign spokesperson said there would be a “digital push” to promote the website across the state, but declined to comment on details or how much is being spent on the effort.
McCaskill has so far declined to comment on the impending Supreme Court vacancy. She said in a statement to The Associated Press that it was “premature to discuss [Kennedy’s] replacement until one has been nominated.”
First elected in 2006, McCaskill is one of five Democrats running for re-election in states that Trump carried by double digits in 2016, making her one of the most vulnerable incumbents. Three of those Democrats — Heidi Heitkamp of North Dakota, Joe Donnelly of Indiana, and Joe Manchin of West Virginia — backed Gorsuch.
Watch: Decoding the High Court Confirmation Process — 2 Things Trump Needs to Worry About
Hawley, currently in his first term as Missouri attorney general, has latched on to the Supreme Court vacancy as a key issue in the Senate race. He does have to win the Aug. 7 GOP primary first, but Republicans consider him the likely nominee.
Hawley previously clerked for Supreme Court Chief Justice John G. Roberts Jr., and in a statement he called the high court “the defining issue of our time.” He called on McCaskill to debate him over the court’s role.
“My top criteria for the next nominee includes enforcing the Constitution the way the people wrote it, not according to a judge’s personal preferences, and a willingness to stand up to political pressure,” Hawley said.