Speed Reads

2018 midterm elections

Trump's SCOTUS nominee could make or break the Missouri Senate race

Missouri Sen. Claire McCaskill (D) is already one of the most vulnerable lawmakers up for re-election in November — President Trump won her state by 19 points in 2016 — and the looming Supreme Court vote is playing right into her Republican opponent's hand, Politico reports. Missouri Attorney General Josh Hawley, who will likely seal his spot to run against McCaskill after an August Republican primary, called the SCOTUS nominee "the defining issue of this campaign."

A constitutional lawyer who met his wife while clerking for Chief Justice John Roberts, Hawley is in his element when he declares that McCaskill has "been wrong on every single court nominee since she has been running for the Senate or in the Senate." McCaskill, a centrist Democrat who broke with her other red state colleagues by voting against Neil Gorsuch last year, insists that she has not already made up her mind to vote "no" against retiring Justice Anthony Kennedy's successor.

"Am I optimistic that [Trump is] going to nominate somebody that I would feel comfortable about?" said McCaskill. "No, I'm not."

While it is still very early, McCaskill has the slightest edge over Hawley in RealClearPolitics' average, 45.0 percent to 43.3 percent. Politico notes that she will need wide margins in St. Louis and Kansas City to beat a Republican again in the state. For Democrats to take back the Senate in November, McCaskill's party would need to hold all of their 26 seats up for election and win two of the nine Republican seats in play.

"What I can't tell you is everything is going to be okay," McCaskill told Democrats recently of the impending SCOTUS battle. "[Republicans] have the votes, they changed the rules, they changed the norm."