Supporters, volunteers, and staff rallied around one another Tuesday night at the Downtown Marriott, to await the results of the most watched race on the Missouri ballot. Democratic incumbent U.S. Senator Claire McCaskill was fighting to hold onto her seat for a third term against Republican challenger Josh Hawley.
“We’re enthusiastic about the race. We feel good about tonight and we are just sifting through those election night jitters,” Brooke, a staffer for the campaign told The NorthSider.
As the night progressed—and results periodically flashed across the screens—it appeared the optimistic jitters were being replaced with worry the incumbent could possibly lose her senate seat to the Republican party.
While everyone waited to see McCaskill make an appearance, Stephen Webber, Chair of the Missouri Democratic Party took to the stage to make a speech. Webber came out to inform the crowd the votes were still being counted. He thanked everyone who volunteered their time throughout the campaign and tried to rally the crowd.
“We’re excited about the opportunity with Proposition B to raise minimum wage in the state of Missouri. We’re excited about the opportunity to clean Missouri and bring ethics reform (Amendment 1) to Jefferson City,” Webber told the crowd, as they chanted.
Webber continued his speech, “We’re excited about picking up some seats in the state legislature to bring some balance back to Jefferson City. We’re thrilled about the opportunity to re-elect Nicole Galloway as the State Auditor—and we’re very excited about the opportunity to elect for a third term—the best Senator in the United States of America, Claire McCaskill.”
Webber’s words re-energized the crowd for the moment, but soon reality set in as the final results came in. After what looked to be a close race, McCaskill was beaten by Hawley by 6 percentage points (51.5% to 45.5%) and nearly 150,000 votes. It was one of several statewide defeats for Democrats across the country.
However, Democrats did much better in their races for the U.S. House of Representatives. Democrats picked up 28 seats, enough to turn over control of the House to Democrats.
St. Louis Congressman Lacy Clay (D-St. Louis) was able to hold onto his seat for a 10th term, 50 years after his father broke the state color line in Congress. Clay was not at the Marriott Tuesday night, but many other elected officials were there to support McCaskill, including Aldermanic President Lewis Reed, 7th Ward Committeeman Marty Joe Murray, Jr., and Ferguson Councilwoman Ella Jones.
Reed was not discouraged by the election results. “If anything, the results of this election should motivate us to work even harder for a more unified Country we can all be proud to be a part of,” he told The NorthSider.
“Even though some of the outcomes may not have been exactly what we wanted, we have a lot to learn from and be excited about as a result of [Tuesday’s] election,” said Reed.
But not all Democrats supported McCaskill’s re-election. State Senator Maria Chappelle-Nadal (D-14) launched a social media campaign against McCaskill after the she appeared on Fox News and referred to Nadal as a “crazy Democrat”.
“Claire McCaskill is desperate. She’s a piece of shit,” Nadal tweeted on October 29. “She deserves to lose. She is not a Democrat.”
When asked her thoughts about Tuesday’s results, Nadal said, “Democrats that did not vote for Claire were sick of the chicken dinners, being taken for granted and her consistent move to the right.”
Many of McCaskill’s supporters and volunteers struggled with the defeat Tuesday night as they cried and comforted one another during and after McCaskill’s concession speech.
Imparting words of encouragement, McCaskill said, “I’m going to do more than just sit on the couch and cuss the TV. I’m going to show up. I’m going to work hard.”
As the crowd cheered, she continued thanking everyone from her staff to her family for the hard work they put in during the campaign—while sharing the many hardships they endured throughout it.
“I want to give the people of Missouri my biggest thanks. The people of Missouri allowed me, beginning when I was 28 years-old to serve the public—to serve them—to be a public servant,” McCaskill said.
“For decades, I have been blessed to get up everyday and work in a challenging and interesting job, trying to make things better in people’s lives. It has been such an honor.”