The indelible image of Mark McCloskey and his wife guarding their St. Louis home against Black Lives Matter protesters last year with an AR-15-style rifle and pistol is now the pose and profile of his grassroots U.S. Senate campaign.
It’s a campaign he says is gaining steam, despite going up against other Republicans with much bigger names — and sometimes meeting voters who don’t recognize his. “Then I say, ‘Would it make a difference if I were standing on my front porch with an AR in my hands?’ Everybody gets a big smile on their face and pats me on the back and says, ‘Boy, you’ve got my vote.’”
Indeed, like the protesters he menaced outside his home, his GOP primary competition had best beware. Although the major media seem to regard defiance from the left as a virtue, and from the right a vice, McCloskey says rank-and-file Missouri Republicans sure appreciate his.
“People, I think, respect us for having just said enough is enough,” he says — adding that he has more individual contributions than anyone in the race, at over 12,300, and a contribution rate second only to sitting Missouri attorney general and campaign rival Eric Schmitt. He also says that among his legal practice’s largely African American clients, he’s lost none.
McCloskey doesn’t shrink from, as the law put it, having “purposely placed at least one person in apprehension of immediate physical injury” while brandishing and pointing his rifle toward what he says were verbally abusive protesters. That’s the whole point of self-defense, he figures. But while a badge of honor among conservatives, Mark and Patricia McCloskey’s misdemeanor guilty pleas in June have them in yet more hot water: Missouri courts’ chief disciplinary counsel is asking the state Supreme Court to suspend McCloskey’s law license for six months, notwithstanding Gov. Mike Parson’s pardon of the couple.
It never occurred to McCloskey that pleading to misdemeanors in order to be pardoned would put him in danger of being considered “immoral” as the law license suspension effort claims. It used to be illegal for races to intermarry, he notes.
“Did violating that statute make you immoral?” he asks. “It may (have been) a crime, but it’s not immoral. Lots of the things that we now take for granted as civil rights in this country came from people choosing to exercise their rights, regardless of whether or not they may be technically breaking the law by doing so. But that does not make them evil people.
“What we did has been recognized by everybody from the (former) president of the United States to hundreds of thousands of supporters around the country as being a laudable and praiseworthy thing, and certainly not an immoral or baseless, depraved act — which is what they have to prove.”
He will, as it turns out, still get his day in court.
Media, courts unfair to Missouri lawyer
Yet McCloskey isn’t running just on his notoriety. He’s running against the federal government’s growing intrusiveness, its superfluous agencies, its wealth distribution and its overbearing regulations that he says are strangling Missouri’s small and midsize industries.
“I think the vast majority of what the federal government does, it should not be doing under the Constitution and under the 10th Amendment,” he says. “I think my political positions are pretty much in line with what the average hard-working, God-fearing, law-abiding Missourian believes in.”
Probably so. Still, it’s his brazen stand on his porch that likely will either make or break his run to replace retiring Sen. Roy Blunt next year.
In retrospect, despite his ominous uncertainty of a St. Louis jury’s view of it, it’s a shame this case didn’t go to trial — where McCloskey could have tried to make a legal case for what he and his wife did. Instead, he’s now making the political case for it.
“Mark and his wife Patti are the face of those targeted by the radical progressive socialist left,” says Col. Allen West who, as chairman of the Republican Party of Texas, has hosted the McCloskeys and encouraged his Senate run, though not yet making an endorsement.
I don’t know who was right and who was wrong in the woeful confrontation of June 28, 2020. I can’t endorse what the McCloskeys did, and I’m certain I wouldn’t have done the same. Then again, it followed violent protest clashes in St. Louis and the shootings of multiple police officers. It’s awfully presumptuous to try to conclude what was in a man’s mind and whether it was reasonable, particularly without the benefit of courtroom evidence.
Either way, something tells me the McCloskeys haven’t gotten a fair shake by the media — thus my interest in his side of things — or in the courts, where none of the protesters faced any repercussions even after nine were cited for trespassing.
Ultimately, though no jury got the chance, Missouri’s Republican primary voters will weigh in on Mark McCloskey in 2022. It promises to be a fascinating verdict.