Josh Hawley kicks off U.S. Senate campaign in Springfield Tuesday

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SPRINGFIELD, Mo. -- Missouri Attorney General Josh Hawley stopped in Springfield Tuesday to kick off his campaign for the Republican nomination for U.S. Senate in Missouri. Many national Republicans are closely watching this Missouri race because this seat is crucial in the battle to retain the Senate majority.

Hawley spoke with supporters inside a Springfield manufacturing plant Positronics. Hawley talked about his faith, his family and his fight.

"We are embarking today on a great journey," said Hawley. "It's one that is in service to a higher calling and I tell you there is only one way to do that and that is standing shoulder to shoulder with friends and fellow believers in the cause of liberty."

He is running to unseat Democratic incumbent Senator Claire McCaskill in November. She has already held some 50 town hall meetings and raised millions of dollars.

"She has worked on 23 bills that the president has signed into law already, and meanwhile you have Josh Hawley who has failed to clean up corruption, who is looking out for his donors and special interests, and really isn't fighting for Missourians," said Brooke Goren, Senator McCaskill supporter. Goren was one of about a dozen people protesting outside Hawley's stop at Positronics.

Hawley though, says, Claire has got to go, attacking her voting record.

"She refuses to work with President Trump, and instead votes with Chuck Schumer almost 90-percent of the time, 90-percent," said Hawley. "She has voted to raise your taxes and fees over 200 times and she's voted to raise the cost of your health insurance."

"Claire has really gotten a lot done for Missourians, Hawley is just not making good on the promises that he made to Missouri when he campaigned for attorney general," said Goren.

Either way, it's a race the nation is watching.

"We are still the heartland today, and we are fighting for that heartland now, because make no mistake, the future of our country depends on renewing the way of life we hold dear," said Hawley.

Hawley has been criticized by his own party for not getting out enough and campigning and fundraising. That starts Wednesday. He will host an event with President Trump in St. Louis. Reports say that tickets for that event run from $35,000 to $50,000. It is a private, invitation only event.

Senator Claire McCaskill shared this statement with KY3.

"Josh Hawley has spent over a year as Attorney General refusing to investigate his biggest donor, friends, and allies and perpetuating the culture of corruption in Jefferson City by looking the other way and conducting sham investigations. He is failing at his new job as Attorney General and not working very hard as a candidate. In that same time, Claire McCaskill held over 50 town halls to listen directly to Missourians and took their ideas to the Senate to make real progress for our state. The contrast in this race is clear -- Josh is busy looking past his present job except to protect his donors and friends. Claire won't let anything -- or anyone -- stop her from getting things done for Missourians."