The Republican party’s top pick to challenge Democrat Claire McCaskill — widely regarded as the most vulnerable Senate incumbent in the nation — raised just shy of $1 million in final three months of last year.
Hawley, the Missouri attorney general, is fundraising well ahead of other Republicans in the field. But he’s far short of the $2.9 million McCaskill collected during the fourth quarter of 2017.
Hawley raised $958,694 in the quarter and had $1.2 million on hand. A total of 1,490 donors have given him money, and 62 percent donated less than $250, his campaign said. His average donation in the fourth quarter was $761.
McCaskill had more than $9 million on hand. The average contribution to McCaskill last year was $64, according to her campaign, which said more than 107,000 people have donated to her re-election effort.
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Even though Hawley’s fundraising lags behind McCaskill’s, that doesn’t mean anyone should count him out, said Michael Malbin, co-founder and executive director of the Campaign Finance Institute, a nonpartisan research group.
In general, over the years, challengers have shown they do not need to match incumbents dollar for dollar to beat them, Malbin said.
“Missouri in other offices has been voting Republican, so in that sense McCaskill has an uphill fight,” he said. “She’s the incumbent...She has a lot positive going for her, but no one has looked at her as the overwhelming favorite.”
President Donald Trump won Missouri in 2016 by more than 19 percentage points. The state has a Republican governor and its other senator, Roy Blunt, is a Republican.
Hawley just needs to have enough money to establish himself as a credible, serious candidate and put himself ahead of the rest of the Republican field, Malbin said.
After Hawley, the Republican in the race who raised the most money at the end of last year was Austin Petersen, a former Libertarian presidential candidate. Petersen raised more than $93,000 in the last quarter, including nearly $10,000 in Bitcoin. He had a total of $25,578 on hand. He was endorsed this week by the Republican Liberty Caucus.
Tony Monetti, another Republican in the race, reported raising $61,161 in the fourth quarter. He had $35,837 on hand. He did not immediately respond to request for comment.
Courtland Sykes, whose comments calling feminists “she devils” went viral last week, did not respond to a request for his fundraising totals. His filings showed he had a total of $500 of his own money by October.