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Democrat Lucas Kunce’s fundraising surge could be a game changer for Missouri Senate race

Kunce’s opponent, incumbent Sen. Josh Hawley, has staunch anti-abortion views that could jeopardize his reelection bid.

By Jesse Valentine - April 18, 2024
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Democratic Senate hopeful Lucas Kunce thanks his supporters after conceding at a primary election watch party Tuesday, Aug. 2, 2022, in Kansas City, Mo. (AP Reed/Hoffmann)

Democratic Missouri U.S. Senate candidate Lucas Kunce raised more than $2 million in the first quarter of 2024, substantially more than his opponent, incumbent Republican Sen. Josh Hawley. 

The U.S. Senate contest in Missouri has not received a lot of media attention, in part because of the state’s decisive rightward trend in recent elections. But Kunce’s fundraising haul and a referendum on abortion rights could make it a race to watch in November.

In the first months of 2024, Kunce’s campaign raised over $2.25 million from more than 66,000 donations. This is a continuation of a trend for Kunce who also outraised Hawley in the last three months of 2023. Kunce now has $3.3 million cash on hand, more than any non-incumbent U.S. Senate candidate in Missouri history.

Hawley, by contrast, raised $1.9 million in the first quarter of 2024.

Another big fundraiser was Missourians for Constitutional Freedom who raked in nearly $5 million. The group is currently working to put a referendum on the November ballot that would enshrine abortion rights into the Missouri state constitution. A similar referendum passed in Ohio in November 2023.

Most abortions are outlawed in Missouri with no exceptions for rape or incest.

Across the country, the debate over abortion access has been credited with helping Democrats overperform in tight races.

Kunce, a 13-year Marine veteran and antitrust lawyer, has pledged to support the Women’s Health Protection Act if elected, a law that would establish a federal right to abortion for the entire country, essentially restoring Roe v. Wade.

Hawley co-sponsored legislation in 2022 that would ban abortions at 15-weeks gestation. The bill did not pass.

Hawley’s wife, lawyer Erin Hawley, recently argued in front of the U.S. Supreme Court that mifepristone, the drug used in most medication abortions, should have its Food and Drug Administration approval revoked. Mifepristone has been available for more than 20 years and is considered safe and effective by the medical community.

Most polls currently show Hawley leading Kunce, but a 2023 Morning Consult poll found Hawley was the least popular Republican Senator up for reelection in 2024.


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