The Buzz

Did Sen. Claire McCaskill just announce for re-election in 2018?

Missouri Sen. Claire McCaskill may have come closer Thursday to declaring for a third term in the U.S. Senate than she ever has before.

In a KCUR radio interview, the Democrat said three times that she thought she had another Senate race in her in 2018.

Then she said it a fourth time:

“I think I probably do have another race in me.”

There’s much to say about her prospects for a third Senate term:

▪ She’d be running in an off-year election, meaning there would be no presidential race to drive Democrats to the polls. That could make it tough for her, or any Democrat.

▪ Republicans will work overtime to avoid the nomination of another Todd Akin-like conservative. It was Akin’s nomination, after all, that boosted McCaskill’s prospects immeasurably in 2012.

▪ The early talk is that a St. Louis-area House member, Ann Wager, will seek the GOP nomination. She has close ties to the national Republican establishment stemming from her days as co-chair of the Republican National Committee from 2001-2005. Those ties suggest that Wagner would have all the money she needs to mount a competitive candidacy, something Akin lacked.

▪ McCaskill has been counted out before despite a stellar political track record. In a career that dates to 1982 and has included stints as a state rep. Jackson County legislator, prosecutor, two elections to state auditor and two more to the U.S. Senate, she has lost only once, and that was the 2004 race for Missouri governor.

Even then, she defeated the sitting governor of her own party, Bob Holden, to claim the Democratic nomination.

She’s very well-known in the state, which is both a plus and a minus, and a third term would elevate her considerably in the Senate hierarchy.

Said McCaskill on KCUR, “I hope Missourians have gotten to know me. I’ve been pretty independent. I’ve tried to chart my own course. I try to call them like I see them. I hope I’m forthcoming. I work hard.”

She said one pull on her is her seven children (from a blended family) and nine grandchildren. McCaskill said she wants to show that crew how important it is to be strong and work for good causes.

“There’s a lot of work to do,” she said. “I want to be part of a moderate middle (in the Senate) that brings the two ends together in compromise.”

On another topic, she dismissed concerns that Republicans are pushing that she may have violated federal campaign law in 2012 by assisting Akin’s campaign with poll information.

“Naw. That’s silly,” she said in the interview. “I mean, it’s just silly. They haven’t read the law. They don’t know the law.

“I was giving advice. A candidate can give an advice to another candidate any time. He certainly had a choice of rejecting it. It was coming from me, after all.”

McCaskill said her camp didn’t provide polling data to Akin, but just general information.

“This is just those folks reading what we did and being kind of angry and having sour grapes that we pulled it off.”