Apr 11, 2024 - Politics & Policy

Scoop: Josh Hawley's challenger bags strong fundraising quarter

Democratic U.S. Senate candidate Lucas Kunce speaks to supporters during at rally at Bridgeton Municipal Athletic Complex on July 31, 2022 in Bridgeton, Missouri.

Democratic U.S. Senate candidate Lucas Kunce speaks to supporters during at rally at Bridgeton Municipal Athletic Complex on July 31, 2022 in Bridgeton, Missouri. (Photo by Michael M. Santiago/Getty Images)

Missouri Democrat Lucas Kunce raked in over $2.25 million in 2024's first quarter as he builds an underdog bid to unseat Sen. Josh Hawley (R-Mo.), Axios has learned.

Why it matters: The Missouri race has flown under the radar, but a push by multiple groups to get an abortion measure on the ballot could make the state more competitive.

  • Abortion is banned in the state at all stages with limited exceptions.

The big picture: Abortion rights will be one of the top issues in races around the country in November, and a ballot initiative to protect access in Missouri could boost turnout for Democrats.

  • There are a number of abortion-related measures that advocates are pushing to get on the ballot in the state.
  • One group is pursuing an initiative that would make abortion legal until viability, while another attempts to allow abortion up to 12 weeks with certain exceptions.
  • Each measure needs over 171,000 signatures before early May to be on the ballot.

By the numbers: Kunce, a Marine veteran and attorney, has raised around $7.6 million so far for his campaign, and will enter the second quarter of the year with $3.3 million cash on hand.

  • The fundraising figures are a record for a Senate challenger in the state, according to the Kunce campaign.
  • Hawley, the former state attorney general, defeated then-Sen. Claire McCaskill (D-Mo.) in 2018 to flip the seat from Democrats.
  • Kunce lost the state's 2022 Democratic primary for Senate by a little over 17,000 votes. The winner, Democrat Trudy Busch Valentine, went on to lose the general to Sen. Eric Schmitt (R-Mo.) by over 12 points.
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