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Politically Speaking: Josh Hawley makes his case to be Missouri's next attorney general

Josh Hawley
File photo | Jason Rosenbaum | St. Louis Public Radio
Josh Hawley

Updated to link to Hensley podcast - On the latest edition of the Politically Speaking podcast, St. Louis Public Radio’s Jason Rosenbaum and Jo Mannies welcome back Republican attorney general nominee Josh Hawley to the program.

Hawley won the GOP primary for attorney general over state Sen. Kurt Schaefer by a landslide. He will square off against Democratic attorney general nominee Teresa Hensley, who is slated to record an episode of Politically Speaking next week.

The Lexington, Missouri, native received his undergraduate degree at Stanford University and his law degree from Yale. He served as a law clerk for U.S. Appeals Court Judge Michael McConnell and U.S. Supreme Court Chief Justice John Roberts.

More recently, Hawley worked as a law professor at the University of Missouri-Columbia. He’s also served as a senior counsel as at the Beckett Fund for Religious Liberty.

Among conservatives, Hawley is best known as part of the legal team that successfully prosecuted the “Hobby Lobby case,’’ which challenged the mandate in the federal Affordable Care Act for employers to include contraceptive coverage in the insurance they provide employees. The U.S. Supreme Court sided with Hobby Lobby.

Despite never running for office before, Hawley has been able to haul in huge donations for his candidacy – including from TAMKO executive David Humphreys and his family.


Here’s what Hawley had to say during the show:

  • While he stands by his stinging statement condemning GOP presidential nominee Donald Trump’s 2005 comments to NBC entertainment personality Billy Bush, Hawley declined to say whether he is rescinding his endorsement of Trump. “I’m going to let my comments on Friday stand,” Hawley said. “And they are my final word on this race – and certainly his comments and behavior. I don’t have anything to add to it.”
  • Hawley says he’s “leery” of automatically making the attorney general investigate every situation where a police officer kills somebody. That proposal was one of the first recommendations in the Ferguson Commission report, but has been opposed by both Republicans and Democrats. “I’m very nervous about any statutory change that would move that authority away from the prosecuting attorneys, and therefore the people, and centralize it in Jefferson City,” he said.
  • Hawley doesn’t believe the fact that Hensley has served as an elected prosecutor is a good reason to vote for her. “Prosecuting crime is absolutely, hugely important – that’s why we elect our prosecuting attorneys,” he said. “It’s not really what the attorney general’s office does. She does not have the background that is relevant to running the attorney general’s office: Which is federal courts, constitutional law, complex civil litigation. Nor does she have inclination to fight the fights that need to be fought in order to protect Missourians.”
  • When asked if he would swear off running for any other office besides attorney general if he wins, Hawley said: “I am running to be attorney general of Missouri – and that is the job that I want to do,” he said. “That’s the job that I have my sights set on. I’m not running to get this job in order to that or this or the other thing.”

Follow Jason Rosenbaum on Twitter: @jrosenbaum

Follow Jo Mannies on Twitter: @jmannies

Follow Josh Hawley on Twitter: @HawleyMO

Music: “Crossroads” by Bone Thugs-n-Harmony 

Jason is the politics correspondent for St. Louis Public Radio.
Jo Mannies has been covering Missouri politics and government for almost four decades, much of that time as a reporter and columnist at the St. Louis Post-Dispatch. She was the first woman to cover St. Louis City Hall, was the newspaper’s second woman sportswriter in its history, and spent four years in the Post-Dispatch Washington Bureau. She joined the St. Louis Beacon in 2009. She has won several local, regional and national awards, and has covered every president since Jimmy Carter. She scared fellow first-graders in the late 1950s when she showed them how close Alaska was to Russia and met Richard M. Nixon when she was in high school. She graduated from Valparaiso University in northwest Indiana, and was the daughter of a high school basketball coach. She is married and has two grown children, both lawyers. She’s a history and movie buff, cultivates a massive flower garden, and bakes banana bread regularly for her colleagues.