Claire McCaskill was born in Rolla, Mo. She received a bachelor's degree and a law degree from the University of Missouri-Columbia.
She has served in the state Legislature, as Jackson County legislator, Jackson County prosecutor and, for eight years, as state auditor. She ran for governor in 2004 and defeated her own party's incumbent in the primary, but lost the general election to Republican Matt Blunt.
She was elected to the U.S. Senate in 2006.
McCaskill and her husband, Joseph Shepard, reside in St Louis. She has three children from a previous marriage and four stepchildren.
Claire McCaskill was considered one of the most vulnerable Democratic incumbents heading into the 2012 election as Republicans sought to take control of the Senate. But her chances improved considerably when her Republican challenger, Rep. Todd Akin, remarked in August 2012 that women's bodies have ways of avoiding pregnancy in cases of "legitimate rape."
McCaskill quickly denounced Akin's remarks as offensive. But as national Republicans pressured Akin to quit the race, McCaskill publicly defended his right to remain in it.
McCaskill has made little secret of her desire to run against Akin. She casts him as a conservative extremist and herself as a moderate. During a hotly contested Republican primary, McCaskill aired a TV ad calling Akin a "crusader against bigger government," noting he promotes a "pro-family agenda" and telling viewers that Akin had described Obama as "a complete menace to our civilization." The ad ended by concluding that Akin "is just too conservative" — but some Republicans said it helped firm up their support for him.
Before Akin's rape comment, McCaskill said she would skip the 2012 Democratic National Convention to stay home and campaign.
In 2012, she sponsored an amendment that would bar the Postal Service from closing post offices for one year if they are located in rural areas — those with fewer than 50,000 people. The exception would be if there was no community opposition. "Protecting our rural post offices is about more than just maintaining brick and mortar — our post offices are the lifeblood for towns across our state and a source of good-paying jobs in areas hard-hit by the economic downturn," she said.
A former prosecutor and Missouri state auditor, McCaskill has tried to shine a light on fraud and mismanagement in defense contracts. In her first term in the Senate after being elected in 2006, McCaskill and fellow Democratic Sen. Jim Webb of Virginia successfully passed a measure creating an independent commission to investigate military contracts. The panel released a report in 2011 estimating that between $31 billion and $60 billion had been lost to waste and fraud in Iraq and Afghanistan over the past decade because of lax oversight, poor planning and corruption.
McCaskill also has called for more transparency in the way lawmakers earmark spending. She is one of the only Democrats who refuses to request earmarks. In January 2009, she teamed up with Republican Sen. John McCain of Arizona and others to sponsor legislation to rein in earmarks in appropriations bills.
She rose to national prominence in just her second year in the Senate as a frequent surrogate for Obama's presidential campaign. McCaskill was the first woman in the Senate to endorse Obama. She has supported Presidient Obama's most high-profile initiatives — the 2009 approximately $800 billion economic stimulus package and the 2010 health care reform bill.
McCaskill was embarrassed in 2011 by reports about her private airplane. First she repaid the government $88,000 after she was criticized for reimbursing herself for use of the plane on official and political travel. Then she paid $320,000 in back taxes, penalties and interest on the plane to St. Louis County.
McCaskill first ran for office in 1982, winning a seat in the Missouri House, where she served until 1989. She became a member of the Jackson County Legislature in 1990, and was elected the first female Jackson County prosecutor in 1992. She served that role until 1999, when she was sworn in as state auditor.
As auditor in 2004, she challenged and defeated Missouri's incumbent Democratic Gov. Bob Holden in the primary. But she went on to lose the general election to Republican Matt Blunt.
McCaskill has three children with her first husband, David Exposito. While McCaskill was serving as prosecutor in 1994, Exposito was arrested for smoking marijuana at a local casino while McCaskill was out of town. The incident did not affect her political career, though she and Exposito later divorced. She remarried businessman Joseph Shepard in 2002.
Exposito was shot to death in 2005 in a still-unsolved murder in Kansas City, Kan. His death took place just a few weeks after McCaskill launched her bid for the Senate.
Committee Assignments: Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs; Commerce, Science, and Transportation; Armed Services; Special Aging
American Conservative Union Rating: 0
Americans for Democratic Action Rating: 85
Claire McCaskill is not up for re-election in 2014.
(Last updated by The Associated Press on August 7, 2014.)