Democratic Sen. Claire McCaskill got voted out of the Senate this month, and she is not going quietly. Instead, she wants to play the blame game, and her target is her own party’s left wing.
In an interview with Morning Edition host Rachel Martin, McCaskill characterized her loss as a “failure” of the Democratic Party “to gain enough trust with rural Americans,” and she predicted her party will struggle to win other seats as long as President Trump remains in office.
“This demand for purity, this looking down your nose at people who want to compromise, is a recipe for disaster for the Democrats,” she said Thursday in her Capitol Hill office. “Will we ever get to a majority in the Senate again, much less to 60, if we do not have some moderates in our party?”
McCaskill says a bunch of other mealy centrist bullshit in the interview about “compromise” and the Democrats’ handling of Brett Kavanaugh’s confirmation, but let’s take a look at the election for a minute.
McCaskill lost her Senate seat in Missouri to Josh Hawley by six points. That’s not exactly a nailbiter, and it’s certainly an abysmal showing for an incumbent, albeit one who had a 37 percent approval rating going into the election. But sure, it’s the Democrats’ fault for not supporting her. Except they did! McCaskill outspent and out-raised Hawley four to one in the Senate race, and the Democrats’ Senate Majority PAC spent over $10.7 million on attack ads against Hawley, as well as $3.3 million in support of McCaskill—the third most of any race in the country, per PolitiFact.
Maybe, and just maybe, bear with me here, McCaskill fucked it up. McCaskill defended her Senate seat in 2012 by donating to the dumbest Republican she could find in the primaries (Rep. Todd Akin, the “legitimate rape” quote guy) and then beating him in the general, banking on her status as a dead-center moderate to make her more amenable to Missouri voters. It worked, and she won.
The problem was that in 2016, she wasn’t running against Todd Akin. It’s ludicrous for McCaskill to lament Democratic failings in rural areas, seeing as she did absolutely everything she could to win over rural voters and she still lost. In doing so, she also took the black vote completely for granted.
Here’s what happened when Bruce Franks, a Ferguson protestor and organizer turned Missouri state legislator, told her bluntly what she needed to do, per the Kansas City Star:
African American leaders in Missouri are frustrated with what they see as Sen. Claire McCaskill’s lackluster engagement with minority voters.
Frustrated enough that they refused to sign a letter pushing back against comments made last month by Bruce Franks, a prominent black activist and state legislator from St. Louis, who called on McCaskill to “show up” and earn the support of minority voters in her state.
“I’m going to vote for Claire, but Claire is going to have to bring her ass to St. Louis,” Franks said to applause at a town hall he hosted Feb. 17.
In response to Franks’ comments, McCaskill had asked African American elected officials in Kansas City and St. Louis to sign the letter.
To get that straight: McCaskill got called out, and her response, instead of engaging with the critique, was to try to get the guy’s peers to sign a letter pushing back on him. Fuckin’ weak.
McCaskill also spent months of her campaign railing against single payer healthcare, claiming that she wouldn’t back a Bernie Sanders-sponsored plan to expand Medicare to cover all Americans.
Plus it’s not like all moderates were wiped out in the elections. Over in Montana, home-on-the-range centrist and certified cow-shooter Jon Tester managed to beat back a Republican challenge in a deep-red state. Even Joe Manchin managed to scrape together some sports guys and find a way to victory. In the current Senate, Chuck Schumer is already down to fire up the compromise engine to give Trump money for his border wall.
Over in the House, moderate Democrats are still very much in power, and proved themselves willing to do all kinds of shady-ass shit to stay that way, as centrist legend and primary-loser Joe Crowley reportedly managed to seat his protege Hakeem Jeffries as House Democratic caucus chair by basically smearing Rep. Barbara Lee, who was running against him.
The moderates, Sen. McCaskill, are unfortunately doing fine. You just lost your election.