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President Trump arrives at Lambert

Senatorial candidate Josh Hawley talks with President Trump after his arrival at Lambert International on Wednesday, March 14, 2018, after his arrival on Air Force 1. Photo by J.B. Forbes,

WASHINGTON • Attorney General Josh Hawley raised $1.5 million for his U.S. Senate campaign in the first three months of 2018 — and the $2.1 million he had in cash was less than a fifth of what incumbent Sen. Claire McCaskill reported.

In releasing his first-quarter fundraising results Thursday, Hawley’s campaign pointed out he is raising money at a faster pace than Democratic challenger Jason Kander did in 2016, during Kander’s losing campaign against Sen. Roy Blunt, R-Mo. Hawley also outpaced the amount raised in a corresponding period by nine Republican challengers around the country who won Senate seats in 2014 and 2016.

But McCaskill, D-Mo., a two-term senator, more than doubled Hawley’s take in the first three months of the year, raising $3.9 million. She is on a pace to exceed both the $21 million she spent in 2012 to win re-election, and the record $23.7 million former Sen. Jim Talent spent in 2006, when McCaskill defeated the Republican incumbent.

McCaskill is expected to have a lucrative fundraiser in Beverly Hills, Calif., next month, hosted by movie producer Steven Spielberg and attended by former President Barack Obama. It is Obama’s first scheduled campaign appearance on behalf of a Democratic Senate candidate in 2018, according to an aide, and it is a sign of how much the national Democratic Party is behind McCaskill’s fundraising efforts.

The first quarter for Hawley included a big-donor fundraiser with President Donald Trump in suburban St. Louis, which took in roughly $200,000 after costs, the campaign reported.

McCaskill’s campaign raised an average of about $43,000 a day, while Hawley raised almost $17,000 a day.

Hawley is dwarfing the fundraising take of three Republican challengers in Missouri’s Aug. 7 primary.

Federal Election Commission records show that Tony Monetti, an Air Force veteran, had just under $45,000 in his campaign account as of April 1. Former Libertarian presidential candidate Austin Petersen, now seeking the GOP nomination, had roughly $71,000 cash on hand. As of Feb. 1, Courtland Sykes had less than $2,000. The FEC had not posted his total first-quarter results as of Thursday morning.

Hawley’s advisers say they expect to be outspent by McCaskill, who won her first Senate race in 2006 even though she was outspent 2-1 by Talent.

Chuck Raasch is a reporter for the St. Louis Post-Dispatch.

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