Missouri Democratic Sen. Claire McCaskill and Republican State Attorney General Josh Hawley will face off in another debate Thursday, the latest in one of the most closely watched Senate races of the 2018 midterm elections.
The debate will be moderated by PBS NewsHour anchor and managing editor Judy Woodruff. St. Louis Public Radio, 5 On Your Side and the Nine Network of Public Media are also partnering for the debate.
The debate is scheduled to begin at 8 p.m. ET in St. Louis. Watch live in the player above.
The race is among a key few that could determine whether Republicans or Democrats control the Senate come January.
McCaskill, a former prosecutor and state auditor who has been in office since 2007, is one of 10 Senate Democrats trying to hold onto seats in states President Donald Trump won in 2016.
In Missouri, McCaskill has navigated an unpredictable electorate by positioning herself as a moderate. She supported an immigration deal that also gave more money to border security, but has also challenged the president on a range of other issues, voting against a skinny repeal of the Affordable Care Act last year and in favor of repealing Net Neutrality rules. (FiveThirtyEight points out she votes with Trump about 45 percent of the time).
But in this cycle, she’s faced mounting pressure among voters in a state Trump by 19 points in 2016 — particularly in the battle over whether sexual misconduct allegations against now-Supreme Court Justice Brett Kavanaugh should keep him from the bench.
McCaskill ultimately voted against Kavanuagh’s confirmation, but said the accusations did not factor into her decision.
Hawley, the state’s attorney general, took the vote as an opportunity to paint McCaskill as “just another Washington liberal,” pointing out in a statement that that she supported all of former President Barack Obama’s nominees but so far had voted against all of Trump’s. “Senator McCaskill’s refusal to back Judge Kavanaugh is a betrayal of the people of Missouri,” Hawley said during the nomination fight.
Trump has visited the state several times to campaign for Hawley, saying during one rally last month that “we are finally putting America first … It’s all gonna start with Josh Hawley.”
Kavanaugh’s nomination is tied to another point of tension in the state: abortion.
Hawley has called the landmark Roe v. Wade decision “one of the most unjust decisions in U.S. history,” the NewsHour’s Lisa Desjardins reported last month, echoing a feeling from some Republican voters that abortion rights should be left up to the states.
Abortion rights supporters, meanwhile, see McCaskill as an important voice to counter those in Washington who want to do just that.