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Government, Politics & Issues

Missouri Senate race highlights the limited power of money

U.S. Sen. Claire McCaskill and Attorney General Josh Hawley spoke in the St. Louis area on Aug. 30, 2018.
Carolina Hidalgo | St. Louis Public Radio

Money wasn’t everything when it came to Missouri’s nationally watched U.S. Senate contest.

Republican Josh Hawley is the state’s first Senate winner in decades to be dramatically outspent by the rival he defeated.

And the Democrat who lost, two-term incumbent Claire McCaskill, set a huge fundraising and spending record in the state.

The candidates’ latest and last filings with the Federal Election Commission show that Hawley raised $11.8 million and spent just over $11 million. He spent more than a third of it – $3.9 million – in just the final few weeks before the Nov. 6 election.

McCaskill reported raising $39.9 million, and spending $39.6 million. She spent $5.65 million during the final few weeks.

Overall, she outspent Hawley more than 3-1.

Hawley’s tally represents the lowest amount spent by a Republican U.S. Senate nominee in Missouri since 2012. And it’s the lowest spent by a Senate victor in 14 years. (Then-Sen. Christopher “Kit” Bond, R-Mo., spent just under $10 million in 2004.)

McCaskill’s spending was more than the combined spending of Missouri’s 2016 Republican and Democratic Senate nominees, according to FEC records.

That year’s winner, incumbent Republican Roy Blunt, spent just over $16 million.

This year’s Senate spending highlights the power of outside groups, which poured almost $77 million into the race. More than half of that outside money paid for attack ads against McCaskill.

Final state auditor numbers

State Auditor Nicole Galloway, left, and her Republican challenger Saundra McDowell participated in a debate in 2018.
Credit Carolina Hidalgo I St. Louis Public Radio
State Auditor Nicole Galloway, left, and her Republican challenger Saundra McDowell participated in a debate in September.

State Auditor Nicole Galloway, the sole Democrat holding statewide office in Missouri, reported spending just under $2.2 million in her successful bid for a full four-year term.

She narrowly defeated Republican Saundra McDowell, who reported spending $61,274.

Follow Jo Mannies on Twitter: @jmannies

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