Beleaguered Missouri Senator Josh Hawley has claimed he still enjoys “tremendous support” in his home state, even as he dodges calls from newspapers, faith groups, and colleagues to resign over his alleged incitement of the far-right mob that stormed the U.S. Capitol last month.
Hawley told Missouri’s KY3 News channel Wednesday he believes voters are standing behind his challenge of the presidential election results, even as polls show his support falling amid suggestions that actions emboldened the pro-Donald Trump mob that stormed the Capitol, sending lawmakers fleeing for safety.
Hawley also dismissed criticism from fellow senators as a left-wing smear campaign, while also trying to distance himself from the events of January 6 and those he called “criminal rioters.”
“I’d say the support from Missouri has been tremendous,” Hawley told KY3. “And you see that borne out in poll numbers, and also in our fundraising numbers. And this is not something that we’ve looked for or expected.”
“But we’ve had tremendous support—thousands and thousands of new donors, almost all of them very small donors from across the state, but also tremendous support from folks who had been with us in the past.”
“My approval numbers are strong,” Hawley added. “I think the numbers indicate that I’m reflecting the views of my constituents, people appreciate someone who’s willing to take a stand and to not bow down to a left-wing mob.”
But not all polling is in Hawley’s favor. A Morning Consult poll published on January 22 showed that the firebrand senator lost support after the Capitol riot, with approval among Missouri GOP voters dropping from 72 to 63 percent.
Hawley is, however, increasing his national profile. Since August, his favorability among GOP voters across the country has jumped from 11 to 27 percent, much of the rise coming since he became a prominent opponent of the November election result.
Still, his fame is coming at a cost. The 41-year-old has already been abandoned by former mentor Sen. Jack Danforth, who said in January that supporting Hawley was “the worst mistake I ever made in my life.”
Several large donors have also cut ties with Hawley after the Capitol attack. Among them was billionaire Jeffrey Yass, who suggested after the Capitol attack he had been “deceived” by the senator.
Hawley has also faced calls to resign from faith leaders in Missouri, who argued last month that the senator was putting his own career before his constituents. “As an opportunist, Josh Hawley has shown us he will do anything,” Rabbi Susan Talve said. “He will sell his soul for his own self-serving interest.”
He is under pressure to break from Trump in the upcoming Senate trial of the former president, who is accused of inciting the mob that stormed the Capitol. The St. Louis Post-Dispatch, for example, published an editorial on Monday calling on Hawley and his Republican colleagues to “impose law and order on Trump.”
Hawley has continued to defend his actions. Still, he told KY3 he vehemently opposes the violent methods employed by the mob he was pictured saluting with a raised fist hours before protesters stormed the Capitol.
“I don’t care where it happens, whether it’s the United States Capitol or whether it’s in our cities, whether it’s federal courthouses,” Hawley said. “If you break the law, you riot, you attack cops, you burn buildings, you loot—you’re going to prison, period. I don’t care why you did it. I don’t want to hear the justifications for it. If you are a criminal, rioter, looter, vandal, you’re going to prison.”