Missouri Senate hopeful Mark McCloskey stokes fear over vaccine mandate at town hall

GOP candidate contends people who refuse vaccines ‘get their name on a list’ and will eventually ‘get eliminated,’ though he insists he was referring to eliminated from the workforce

By: - November 4, 2021 7:30 am

In this screenshot from the RNC’s livestream of the 2020 Republican National Convention, Patricia and Mark McCloskey, a couple from St. Louis who pointed guns at Black Lives Matter protesters, addresses the virtual convention in a pre-recorded video broadcasted on August 24, 2020 (via Getty Images).

Missouri GOP Senate candidate Mark McCloskey told a crowd in Osage Beach last month that vaccine mandates were an effort by the government to push “right-thinking, freethinking Americans” out of their jobs to leave only “the indoctrinated sheep.”

And after that, McCloskey told the assembled crowd, those COVID vaccine resisters would get “their name on a list.”

“You’re self-identifying yourself as a person who would stand up and resist the central government,” he said. “And ladies and gentlemen, every place where the left has taken over — when they get complete control — what they do with that list of people who have resisted, the known resistors, is those people get eliminated. That’s what this list is all about.”

McCloskey concluded, according to a video of the event posted on Facebook by its organizers: “I don’t want to sound like I’m some kind of extremist. But you can look down that timeline and that tunnel, and you can see that that’s where it’s going, because that’s where it’s always going.”

In an interview Tuesday with The Independent, McCloskey said he was only talking about people losing their jobs because of vaccine resistance and wasn’t trying to say the government was going to murder those who refuse to get vaccinated. 

Yet in the same interview, McCloskey said history shows that when the “the left has taken over,” such as in the Soviet Union or China, “known resistors of the government get eliminated. And so that’s the ultimate resolution of a lot of these issues in places where the communists have taken over.”

“How many millions of people did Stalin kill? How many tens of millions of people did Mao kill? How many people did Fidel Castro kill?” McCloskey said. “It is their modus operandi to eliminate by death or opposition.”


Bailey Netsch, spokeswoman for the Missouri Democratic Party, called McCloskey’s comments “an obvious extremist conspiracy despite McCloskley claiming otherwise.”

“It is baseless and absurd that a list as he described even exists, let alone as a tool for ‘elimination,’” Netsch said. “He used that word to terrify people. He doesn’t care about Missourians. He cares about creating false narratives to get attention and create fear in anyone and everyone. That is all his publicity has ever been about.”

Elidor Mëhilli, associate professor of history at City University of New York, was born under a Stalinist regime and spent much of his professional life studying communist dictatorships. He said authoritarianism has not been exclusively the domain of “the left,” and “any introductory college class in European history will have crucial things to teach about fascism and right-wing authoritarianism.”

“Ever since I arrived in the United States — as a lawful nonimmigrant some 20 years ago, and then as a lawful immigrant — I have been required to be immunized,” Mëhilli said. “Government officials in this country have regularly asked me to show proof of various vaccines. Does this mean that the United States has been a Stalinist or Maoist dictatorship this whole time? Hardly.”

McCloskey entered the race to replace retiring U.S. Sen. Roy Blunt in May, joining a crowded GOP primary that includes U.S. Reps. Vicky Hartzler and Billy Long; former Gov. Eric Greitens; and Attorney General Eric Schmitt. 

He first garnered national attention last summer after he and his wife pointed guns at Black Lives Matter protesters who were marching past his home in a gated community in St. Louis. Both pleaded guilty to misdemeanor charges stemming from the incident and were subsequently pardoned by Parson. 

Last year, the couple spoke on the opening night of the Republican National Convention.

The Kansas City Star reported last week that at the same Osage Beach forum McCloskey said 13-year-old rape and incest victims should not be allowed to have abortions.

McCloskey, who has chosen not to get the COVID vaccine, said Tuesday that he believes “the government is more interested in control than saving lives.”

People who were once hailed as heroes, McCloskey said, such as EMS workers and nurses, are losing their jobs due to a refusal to get vaccinated. 

“If you don’t get vaccinated, you’re not only not a hero, you’re a pariah,” he said. “You’re a danger to this country. You’re a part of the pandemic of the unvaccinated and the people for whom, as the president says, ‘we have patience, but our patience is wearing thin.’ If that’s not a threat, I don’t know what it is.”

McCloskey isn’t the only Missouri Republican taking aim at vaccine mandates. 

Parson issued an executive order last week banning state government agencies from requiring workers to comply with any federal vaccine requirements as long as they have religious or medical exemptions. And Schmitt is part of a lawsuit seeking to block a vaccine mandate for federal contractors.


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Jason Hancock
Jason Hancock

Jason Hancock has spent two decades covering politics and policy for news organizations across the Midwest, with most of that time focused on the Missouri statehouse as a reporter for The Kansas City Star. A three-time National Headliner Award winner, he helped launch The Missouri Independent in October 2020.