In March, Republican Senate candidate and Missouri Attorney General Josh Hawley said this about Washington, D.C., in front of about 150 supporters gathered at a farm near Chesterfield:
“We are fighting for the heartland now. Washington, D.C., disrespects us. It disregards us. The political class doesn’t even pretend to listen to us. The liberal elites who call themselves our leaders refer to us as flyover country — and they mean it.”
Sen. Claire McCaskill, D-Mo., whom Hawley is trying to unseat, “is the face of Washington’s failure,” Hawley said then.
Next week, Hawley will hold at least two fundraisers in Washington, D.C.
The Post-Dispatch has obtained invitations to one Tuesday night with Sen. John Cornyn, R-Texas, at The Source, a Wolfgang Puck restaurant at the Newseum on Pennsylvania Avenue, halfway between the White House and the Capitol.
On Wednesday, Hawley will be featured at a fundraiser hosted by Sen. Jim Inhofe, R-Okla., at an office building near the Capitol that boasts that it has one of the best rooftop terraces in the city.
Suggested donations range from $500 up to a maximum of $2,700 for an individual and $1,000 to $5,000 for a political action committee.
Candidates who run against Washington routinely raise money from D.C. special interests. Hawley continues a trend of Democrat Jason Kander, the former Missouri secretary of state who ran against Sen. Roy Blunt, R-Mo., in 2016, and criticized Blunt as a D.C. insider while raising money from D.C. insiders.
It’s part of the Willie Sutton theory of political fundraising. You go where the money is. That money, to a significant degree, is with the lobbyists and wealthy government contractors and the special-interest and broad-interest D.C.-based PACs.
The reality in this case is even more complex, as it always is, based on local factors. Missouri is not a rich enough state to finance the big-spending campaigns in its back yards.
Hawley badly trails McCaskill in fundraising, and has been criticized for it, even among fellow Republicans. His campaign earlier this spring brought aboard St. Louis native Katie Walsh, now a major D.C.-based fundraiser, to help close the gap.
Hawley has criticized McCaskill for raising money in Beverly Hills, and that’s become part of a “one of us” overarching, cultural debate in one of the nation’s most-watched Senate campaigns.
The reality is further framed by this fact: The Missouri Senate race, because so many outside-the-state and big-pocketed political groups are already sopping up TV airtime in St. Louis and Kansas City, and in other smaller markets in the state, the inevitable fundraising arms race has commenced.
The state’s TV stations will be among the biggest beneficiaries of a campaign that McCaskill told donors last spring could approach $200 million, or more, in overall spending.