Sen. McCaskill: It's OK if I Don't Get Re-elected
Freshman Sen. Claire McCaskill uttered seven words rarely heard from a sitting lawmaker: “It’s OK if I don’t get re-elected.”
In a profile in the St. Louis Post-Dispatch Tuesday, the Missouri Democrat, who was elected just three years ago, offered some uncommon candor on life in the Senate and her frustration with the way Washington works.
“I’m very frustrated with some of the habits around here,” she said. “What happens around here is that so many people are more focused on getting everybody to love them and getting re-elected than they are on solving the really hard stuff. Because when you solve hard stuff, you make people mad.”
As she reassesses how to spend the second half of her first term, McCaskill said she is going to focus more on a top priority—government accountability—and less on 2012. “I’ve just kind of decided that, hey, I’m just going to do this, and Missouri’s hard, so there’s a chance, you know, that I won’t get re-elected. And if I don’t, that’s OK. It’s not the end of the world.”
An early backer of then-Sen. Barack Obama in his presidential primary fight against Hillary Clinton (she endorsed in January 2008 at the urging of her 18 year old daughter), the senator also voices some disappointment with the Obama administration.
She said the White House initially did not do a good enough job to fight perceptions “that we’re on the big guys’ side instead of on the little guys’ side.”
McCaskill is a swing vote in the Senate and as such a frequent focus of Democratic leaders who need to make sure she’s on board for key votes. She noted that Senate Majority Whip Richard Durbin expresses frustration with her sometimes in their phone calls. She said he gave her a hard time in particular when she questioned Democrats’ support of continually extending unemployment benefits.
“I said, ‘Dick, I’m not trying to skin puppies here,’” McCaskill said. “Now, every time I see him, I just say, ‘Call me Cruella de Vil.’