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As new contender enters MO Senate race, Kunce raises $1.2 million in effort to oust Hawley

Retired Marine Lucas Kunce’s U.S. Senate campaign said it raised more than $1.2 million from April through June as the Democrat picked up a new primary opponent in his effort to take on Sen. Josh Hawley in 2024.

“When I got into this race, I knew we’d need to build a historic coalition to take this Senate seat back for working people, and that’s exactly what we’re doing,” Kunce said.

The quarter brings Kunce’s total haul to more than $2.3 million since launching his candidacy in January. Kunce’s campaign has not yet filed its report, so it is unclear how much the campaign has spent. In the first three months of the year, the campaign went through about 40% of its money.

Kunce — who has effectively been campaigning for the past three years after launching a failed bid in the 2022 Democratic primary for U.S. Senate — has proven himself to be a prolific fundraiser. In his last bid, he raised more than $5 million despite losing the primary to Anheuser-Busch heir Trudy Busch Valentine.

In that campaign, Kunce struggled to win over the Democratic establishment with his populist rhetoric on the campaign trail. This time around, his campaign made an effort to round up endorsements and is touting the support of the Missouri AFL-CIO and Jackson County Executive Frank White.

Those endorsements have become more important after St. Louis County Prosecutor Wesley Bell entered the race. Bell, who was endorsed by Jackson County Prosecutor Jean Peters Baker, is highlighting his ability to win in a moderate county to indicate he would be able to win enough support to unseat Hawley.

Bell’s campaign has not yet released its campaign finance reports, which are not due until July 15. It did not respond to a request for its campaign finance totals.

Both men — along with activist December Harmon — are hoping for the chance to take on Hawley, the incumbent Republican who has become a well-known villain for Democrats over the past five years.

Kunce’s fundraising efforts have prominently featured Hawley, as the Democrat relies on national animus for Missouri’s senior senator in order to compete in a state that has increasingly voted for Republicans by wide margins.

Hawley was the first senator to announce plans to object to certification of the 2020 presidential election and was photographed pumping his fist at the crowd outside the Capitol shortly before the Jan. 6 attack, an image Kunce’s campaign has frequently used.

While Hawley’s actions alienated some donors, such as Hallmark’s PAC, he has more than $4 million in his campaign account as of March. Hawley has also used the photograph in fundraising material, selling mugs and other items with the photograph.

Hawley’s campaign has not yet filed its latest campaign finance report. His campaign did not respond to a request for comment.