With Hawley in, it’s a wild-card Senate race | Political Fix

WASHINGTON • It’s the maverick election.

With Republican Attorney General Josh Hawley entering the 2018 Missouri Senate race, what was once anticipated to be a contest between two established female politicians is now adorned with wild-card candidates and laden with intrigue, and even a touch of the bizarre.

Veteran Democratic Sen. Claire McCaskill faces a field of relative newcomers on the Republican side in one of the nation’s premier Senate elections of 2018.

The GOP nomination fight could be more messy than Republicans hoped for, opening the door for McCaskill to play strategically in the GOP primary, as she did the last time she ran in 2012.

In Hawley, Missouri Republicans have a Washington outsider who is a relatively new Missouri insider. He was elected on a change-politics message but now runs with the backing and cajoling of the state’s Republican establishment as well as anti-establishment figure Steve Bannon, a former adviser to President Donald Trump who runs conservative website Breitbart.com.

Unlike McCaskill, Hawley has no congressional voting record to defend. But while winning his attorney general’s campaign last year, he ridiculed career politicians who seek step-ladders to higher office.

Hawley will have to clear a Republican primary field that involves even lesser-known announced candidates in ex-Libertarian presidential candidate Austin Petersen, retired Air Force pilot Tony Monetti and political newcomer Courtland Sykes, whose 1950s-era pronouncement that he expects a home-cooked dinner from his girlfriend caused some to wonder if he’s engaged in political performance art.

Trump thumped Democrat Hillary Clinton in 2016 in Missouri, and the sheen of Washington, D.C., remains toxic for the state’s politicians. McCaskill, whose favorable-vs.-unfavorable…

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