One of the most vulnerable Senate Democrats seeking re-election in 2018 has raised nearly $3 million in the third quarter and has more than $7 million cash on hand.
U.S. Sen. Claire McCaskill, a Missouri Democrat, is running for her third term in a state President Donald Trump won by 19 percentage points.
McCaskill’s $2.9 million in donations in July, August and September of this year came from more than 30,000 people, breaking records for off-year, third-quarter fundraising among Missouri U.S. Senate candidates, according to her campaign. A vast majority of the donations — 88 percent — were small-dollar contributions of less than $100.
Missouri Attorney General Josh Hawley, a top GOP recruit to challenge McCaskill, reported on Thursday that he raised $820,760 in August and September.
Hawley officially announced his decision to run for Senate on Tuesday, but created a federal committee that allowed him to raise money for a possible Senate run in early August.
Hawley has spent $38,000 so far, and has $782,000 cash on hand.
“I’m humbled to have the support of conservatives throughout Missouri who are ready to change Washington,” Hawley said in a statement. “We’ve been actively raising money for just over a month and these fundraising numbers indicate that we’ll have the resources to run a winning campaign and take on Washington.”
In response to McCaskill’s much higher fundraising numbers, Hawley’s campaign spokesman, Scott Paradise, said, “There’s no doubt Hillary Clinton’s money machine is raking in plenty of cash for McCaskill from Hollywood and New York.”
Meira Bernstein, a spokeswoman for the Missouri Democratic Party, slammed Hawley in an email for “raising money behind closed doors from D.C. establishment insiders and high-dollar donors” such as Majority Leader Mitch McConnell and Missouri GOP megadonor David Humphreys.
“It’s clear Josh Hawley is the worst type of politician — running to represent his own special interests in the United States Senate, instead of Missourians,” Bernstein said.
McCaskill raised and spent a total of $21.2 million in her 2012 election. She won with 55 percent of the vote.
Inside Elections, a nonpartisan political newsletter, regards McCaskill as one of the nation’s four most vulnerable Senate Democrats. Others include Sens. Heidi Heitkamp of North Dakota, Joe Donnelly of Indiana and Joe Manchin of West Virginia. Two Republicans, Sens. Dean Heller of Nevada and Jeff Flake of Arizona, are considered toss-ups. Democrats need a net gain of three seats next year to win control of the Senate.
“Missourians know that Claire fights for them — and they’ve demonstrated time and again that they support sending her back to the U.S. Senate to continue to break through gridlock and get things done,” said Erika Brees, McCaskill for Missouri Finance Director, in a statement.
Austin Petersen, a former Libertarian presidential candidate who is running for Senate as a Republican in Missouri, has raised more than $213,000.
Petersen’s campaign received contributions from more than 2,400 people, with an average donation of $50. Petersen also accepts campaign donations in the cryptocurrency bitcoin. His campaign has received seven bitcoin donations for a total of $400.
Other candidates have yet to release their fundraising totals.