Top African-American leaders in Missouri refused to sign a letter defending Sen. Claire McCaskillClaire Conner McCaskillMissouri county issues travel advisory for Lake of the Ozarks after Memorial Day parties Senate faces protracted floor fight over judges amid pandemic safety concerns Amash on eyeing presidential bid: ‘Millions of Americans’ want someone other than Trump, Biden MORE (D-Mo.) against criticism that she’s not doing enough outreach to minority voters, according to the Kansas City Star.
McCaskill, who’s considered one of the most vulnerable senators on the ballot this fall, asked prominent leaders in the state, including Democratic Reps. Emanuel Cleaver and Lacy ClayWilliam (Lacy) Lacy ClayCalls for police reform sparks divisions in Congress The Hill’s 12:30 Report: Pence visits Orlando as all 50 states reopen The Hill’s Morning Report – Presented by Facebook – Mnuchin, Powell: Economy may need more boost; Trump defends malaria drug MORE and some state legislators, to sign the letter.
They decided against signing it but maintained that they’ll support her in her reelection race. Cleaver said that McCaskill will need to step up her engagement with black communities to make sure she’s not neglecting parts of her base in such a competitive race.
“I’m 100 percent certain that nobody signed it,” Cleaver told the Star on Wednesday. “We talked about it very seriously and strongly and every one of us said, ‘We’re going to support her, but signing this letter isn’t going to achieve what she wants. It’s just going to make people angry.’
“The state is large and diverse, but she might need to take the campaign into the repair shop in the black communities. I think if people see that she’s actually trying to win them over then I think it will be a benefit to her re-election.”
That criticism stems from comments made by Bruce Franks, a state legislator and top black activist who called on McCaskill to “show up” and meet with minority voters to get support for her campaign.
“I’m going to vote for Claire, but Claire is going to have to bring her ass to St. Louis,” Franks said at a town hall on Feb. 17.
McCaskill has a tough campaign as one of 10 Senate Democrats up for reelection in a state that President TrumpDonald John TrumpSenate advances public lands bill in late-night vote Warren, Democrats urge Trump to back down from veto threat over changing Confederate-named bases Esper orders ‘After Action Review’ of National Guard’s role in protests MORE carried in the 2016 election. Trump won Missouri by nearly 19 points.
McCaskill’s campaign said she’s worked hard for African-Americans during her tenure as a prosecutor and also as a senator.
When asked about the letter at a Wednesday town hall, McCaskill insisted that she won’t take any voters for granted. And she’s frequently touted the dozens of town halls she’s held throughout the state.
“I think maybe the letter elevated the issue maybe more than it should have been and it was fine,” McCaskill said. “I mean, listen, here’s the bottom line: I am going to work very hard and not take one vote for granted. I am blessed to have a lot of friends and a lot of supporters in the black community and I am not going to take one of them for granted.”
McCaskill will likely face Missouri Attorney General Josh Hawley, the leading candidate for the Republican nomination. The primary will be held on Aug. 7.
McCaskill will have a difficult needle to thread running as a Democrat in Trump country. She needs to balance making inroads with Trump voters and moderates, while also continuing to appeal to Democrats.
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