McCaskill says she won’t run again but will stay active

ST. LOUIS — Missouri Sen. Claire McCaskill says she won’t run for another office after her term expires next month, but that she will remain active in Democratic politics.

The veteran senator sought re-election to a third term last month but lost to Republican state Attorney General Josh Hawley. On Thursday, she will give her final Senate floor speech before she leaves office in January.

In an interview with the St. Louis Post-Dispatch from her Senate office, McCaskill squashed any speculation that she’d run for Missouri governor by saying she’s done running for office. Instead, she said she’s planning a yet-to-be-announced initiative and that she sees potential in the non-elected public role that former Missouri Sen. John Danforth, a Republican, has taken since he left office 24 years ago.

“I am not going to disappear,” McCaskill said. “I am going to help and I think I can help in terms of the party recruiting good candidates, being prepared. I envision trying to help teach candidates some of the basics.”

One thing she won’t miss?

“I will never make another phone call asking for money,” said McCaskill, who raised nearly $40 million for her re-election bid, almost four times more than Hawley. “It’s terrible, terrible. It is a horrible part of the job and I have done it for a long time.”

McCaskill, 65, told the newspaper that she considered not running this year but did so partly out of duty. She also said she had made up her mind before she announced she was running that it would be her last campaign.

After Donald Trump’s strong showing in Missouri in 2016 en route to winning the presidency, McCaskill said she felt obliged “to stand and fight and not just walk off the field. And so we gave it our best. But I am really at peace about being done.”

Danforth, who has served as United Nations ambassador and in a variety of governmental roles since retiring from the Senate, was among those who called her the day after the election, McCaskill said.

“She has got a lot of life ahead of her,” Danforth said of McCaskill. “There are a lot of opportunities for people who want to continue to be engaged.”

McCaskill leaves a Congress torn over Trump’s agenda. Lawmakers also face a potential constitutional showdown over special counsel Robert Mueller’s investigation into Russian influence on the 2016 election and the Trump campaign.

McCaskill said she has no idea what Mueller will ultimately conclude, but warned: “If it continues down the path it appears to be going, my colleagues here — if more of them don’t speak up — I think they will have a crisis.”

She said Trump’s Republican allies in Congress “are all conflicted right now. They don’t know what to do. All you have to do is look at the state of Missouri, where Trump’s blessing was all a Republican needed. So you want to risk that if he is not going down? It will be interesting to see.”

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