A Republican state legislator from Franklin County in Missouri announced Thursday he’s forming a federal exploratory committee to begin raising money to challenge Democratic U.S. Sen. Claire McCaskill in 2018.
Rep. Paul Curtman is a former Marine who was elected to the Missouri House in 2010 and has carved out a reputation in Jefferson City as a staunch conservative. He currently works as a financial adviser in St. Charles County.
“For too long, we’ve watched Washington politicians, insiders, and bureaucrats chip away at the rule of law while at the same time growing the size of government and creating budget deficits that will take generations to pay off,” Curtman said in a statement announcing the formation of his committee. “Our families and our job creators deserve better. We need a fiscal conservative who will fight for personal freedoms and sound financial principles.”
Curtman is the third Republican to formally jump into the campaign in hopes of challenging McCaskill next year. The other candidates are Tony Monetti, a retired Air Force pilot from Warrensburg, and Austin Petersen, a Kansas City resident who made an unsuccessful bid for the Libertarian Party’s presidential nomination.
Other Republicans actively considering the race are Attorney General Josh Hawley, state Treasurer Eric Schmitt and U.S. Rep. Vicky Hartzler.
Hawley is considered the consensus favorite, and he’s being pressured by numerous high-profile Republicans to jump into the race — including Vice President Mike Pence.
But thus far he hasn’t made a public decision.
Awaiting the Republican nominee will be McCaskill, a the two-term Democrat who has more than $5 million in her campaign coffers after raising a record $3.1 million in the last three months.