MISSOURIANS are proud to be called the Show-Me State. They say the nickname is well deserved because of a long history for demanding to see results rather than being told what to think.
That reputation is being put to the test in the U.S. Senate race featuring two-term incumbent Democrat Claire McCaskill and Republican challenger Josh Hawley. Millions of campaign dollars are pouring into the state in an effort to sway one of the most-watched races in the country.
Despite the flood of daily sound bites and commercials flowing from the campaign trail, if seeing results is what matters most to Missourians, then McCaskill is the obvious choice.
McCaskill is well known to voters. She served in the Missouri House in the 1980s and was Jackson County prosecutor for five years in the 1990s. She was twice elected Missouri auditor before defeating U.S. Sen. Jim Talent in 2006. She was easily re-elected six years later.
Most important, McCaskill has proved to be a centrist in the Senate. GovTrack, an organization that tracks legislative activity, shows her having one of the most conservative records of any Senate Democrat. Moreover, research by the website FiveThirtyEight shows she has voted with President Donald Trump nearly 45 percent of the time, a bipartisan record that reflects the moderate tendencies of the state she represents.
Notably, McCaskill was among those who voted to roll back and revise regulations imposed on smaller community banks and credit unions by the 2010 Dodd-Frank law. She continues to fight pharmaceutical companies to reduce prescription drug costs, has sought stricter consumer protections, has opposed unreasonable federal regulations, and headed a congressional investigation into opioid manufacturers and distributors.
A Mother Jones report showed that between 2012 and 2016, Missouri's opioid overdose death rate jumped more than 70 percent, thanks to compounding waves of painkillers, heroin and fentanyl. In 2017, drug overdoses claimed the lives of nearly 1,400 Missourians.
McCaskill has made health care one of her central campaign issues. She disagrees with Hawley's decision to join 19 other state attorney generals in a lawsuit that seeks to overturn the Affordable Care Act, including popular insurance protections for people with pre-existing medical conditions.
Hawley insists he wants to protect people with pre-existing conditions, but should the ACA be abolished, the plan he laid out in the face of mounting criticism was labeled "incoherent" by the Kansas City Star.
The two candidates also disagree on tariffs. While Hawley fully supports actions taken by the administration, McCaskill worries that farmers across Missouri will bear the worst of it now and in the future.
We endorsed Hawley for attorney general two years ago because we concluded he had a clearer sense of the office's responsibilities as the "attorney for the state" and how Missouri interests need to be protected.
We also took him at his word that he would not be among the "career politicians just climbing the ladder, using one office to get another." Yet, 10 months into his first term, he succumbed to pressure from influential Republicans and donors to announce his bid for the U.S. Senate seat.
Hawley at times has appeared like a candidate pushed into a race he did not want. He has spent much of his campaign attacking McCaskill as being out of touch with Missouri and a "party-line liberal," generic charges that belie her track record over three decades of public service.
Meanwhile, Hawley has yet to show that, if elected, he would break with the Senate Republican leadership when necessary to act in the best interests of Missourians, as McCaskill has done with Democrats. Despite our multiple requests for Hawley to speak with our editorial board, his campaign did not follow through with setting up a meeting -- even by phone -- which leads to concerns on how attentive he will be to Northeast Missouri.
Missouri needs a strong, experienced, independent voice in the U.S. Senate, which we believe Claire McCaskill will continue to provide.
Also on the ballot are Independent Craig O'Dear, Libertarian Japeth Campbell and Jo Crain of the Green Party.
O'Dear, a Kansas City trial attorney who grew up on a farm in Lewis County, is running because he believes the Senate "is broken" and the "two-party system delivers division and gridlock," leaving too many problems unresolved.
He has tried to appeal to what he describes as a growing group of voters who find themselves in the political center and are more concerned with results than which political party can declare victory on specific issues. He thinks his experience as a corporate litigator has given him the tools necessary to bridge the two-party split.