Sen. McCaskill joins list of Democrats skipping national convention

WASHINGTON -- The list of Democrats skipping the party’s upcoming national convention in Charlotte, N.C., grew Tuesday, with Sen. Claire McCaskill (D-Mo.) confirming that she will not attend the convention in favor of spending time with voters.

“Generally speaking, Claire has not gone to the national convention when she is on the ballot because she believes it’s important to spend as much time as possible in the state of Missouri talking with voters,” a McCaskill aide said.

McCaskill, who has served in the Senate since 2007, held a prominent speaking slot during the 2008 Democratic National Convention, addressing the crowd immediately prior to Michelle Obama.

“I have seen Barack Obama in the Senate, and I’ve been by his side on the campaign trail. I know he will bring the change we need in Washington,” she said in her speech, later declaring that “Barack Obama is going to be one great president for one great nation.”

McCaskill will face one of three Republican challengers. Republican voters will choose former State Treasurer Sarah Steelman, Rep. Todd Akin (R-Mo.) or businessman John Brunner on Aug. 7. Polling shows that McCaskill is either tied with each of her possible rivals, according to Public Policy Polling, or behind each by at least eight points, according to a Rasmussen poll from early June.

McCaskill isn’t the first Democrat to announce plans to skip the national convention, as three lawmakers from West Virginia alone have decided to stay home.

Gov. Earl Ray Tombin, Rep. Nick Rahall and Sen. Joe Manchin, who famously used firearms to express his displeasure with Obama’s policies, all will avoid the convention. Their state is well-known for being hostile to the president, with 41% of voters supporting a convicted felon from Texas over Obama during this year’s Democratic primary. And all three are notably up for reelection this year.

Manchin, in a statement released after his announcement, said: “I intend to spend this fall focused on the people of West Virginia,” an explanation echoed by Tombin and Rahall.

And Rep. Mark Critz (D-Penn.) announced earlier this month that he will avoid the gala as well, with campaign spokesman Mike Mikus telling the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review that internal polling has found that Obama trailed rival Mitt Romney by double-digits in Critz’s district.