Claire McCaskill to skip Democratic National Convention

Rachel Rose Hartman
The Ticket

Sen. Claire McCaskill, vulnerable in her re-election bid, reportedly joined a growing faction of Democrats begging off this summer's Democratic National Convention.

The Missouri senator made the decision Tuesday to skip the national convention, which takes place Sept. 3-6, Pema Levy first reported for Talking Points Memo. The convention is where President Barack Obama will formally receive his party's nomination.

"In years when Claire is on the ballot, she has historically not gone to the convention," an anonymous aide told the news outlet, "because she believes it's important to stay in Missouri to talk to voters." Her campaign highlighted McCaskill's decision to skip the 2004 national convention.

When contacted by Yahoo News to confirm the report, campaign workers said all spokespersons were in a staff meeting and unavailable. The Associated Press has confirmed the report.

Expect McCaskill's move to be cast as an attempt to distance herself from Obama during a difficult re-election race—what some would call a savvy political move. But others are likely to view it as a decision to turn her back on her party and her president due to fear of losing her own election. That criticism was lobbed at three West Virginia Democratic lawmakers earlier this month when they revealed their intentions to skip the convention.

"We all know the only reason they're refusing to attend the DNC Convention is they're afraid to tell the people of West Virginia who they support for President, and any attempt to suggest otherwise is political spin aimed at purposefully misleading the voters," Conrad Lucas, chairman of the West Virginia Republican Party said in a statement following the news that Sen. Joe Manchin, Gov. Earl Ray Tomblin and Rep. Nick Rahall would not be heading to the convention.

Montana Sen. Jon Tester, Pennsylvania Rep. Mark Critz, and New York Reps. Kathy Hochul and Bill Owens are among those sitting lawmakers who have announced they will not be convention bound.

McCaskill is locked in one of this year's most competitive Senate races due to her perceived vulnerability, stemming from her state's overall competitiveness as well as her ethics issues. In 2011, it was discovered that she was billing taxpayers to cover the cost of a private plane. Though she returned the money, Republicans say the damage has been lasting.

St. Louis, Mo., was up for consideration as a 2012 convention location for Democrats, but the party ultimately chose Charlotte, N.C. Obama lost Missouri in 2008 by less than 4,000 votes, but the state has failed to emerge this cycle as a prime electoral target, since both parties perceive it as strong territory for Mitt Romney rather than a clear swing state.

Rep. Todd Akin, businessman John Brunner and former state Treasurer Sarah Steelman top the GOP field competing for their party's nomination to challenge McCaskill this fall.