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Major GOP donor pushes others towards Hawley for Senate run

   

ST. LOUIS – Another major voice of the Missouri Republican Party will support Attorney General Josh Hawley for a U.S. Senate run against incumbent Sen. Claire McCaskill in 2018.

Multiple media outlets reported Thursday that Sam Fox, the noted St. Louis businessman, philanthropist and political donor, has joined with other prominent Missouri Republicans seeking to elect Hawley. In April, a list of well-known conservatives names; like former Lt. Gov. Peter Kinder, Joplin megadonor David Humphries, and former U.S. Sen. Jack Danforth; signed a letter formally requesting Hawley to run for McCaskill’s seat.

Fox’s letter, sent to his national network of donors, not only seemed to back Hawley, but also requested those same donors wait to see how the field fleshes out before writing any checks.

“I also ask that you withhold your support for other potential candidates in order to give Josh time to make his final decision,” Fox, also a former ambassador to Belgium under the Bush administration, wrote.

Implications for 2018

  • The race at large: Congresswoman Ann Wagner has positioned herself to run for this Senate seat, and even though she has yet to formally announce, her name, alongside Hawley’s, is the name most commonly floated by the GOP as a candidate. The decision by Fox to not only not support her bid, but to urge donors from giving to anyone until Hawley makes a decision on if he’s running or not, could sow some division between her and one of St. Louis’ power players on the right.
  • On the right?: Speaking of the right, Fox’s donations in the last election cycle raise some eyebrows about his conservative credentials. While he supported Mike Parson’s eventually successful bid for lieutenant governor and supported fellow St. Louis businessman John Brunner in the Republican primary, he gave almost $160,000 to Democrat Chris Koster’s gubernatorial bid against the ultimately victorious Eric Greitens. Historically speaking, however, he has supported Republican causes and candidates with large contributions to Mitt Romney’s 2012 presidential bid and to the Swift Boat Veterans for truth campaign that disputed John Kerry’s war record during his 2004 presidential bid against George W. Bush.
  • Late convert to Hawley: While the donations to Koster aren’t exactly damning (Koster was seen by many as one of the most conservative Democrats in the state), the head-scratcher comes from his donations in support of Teresa Hensley, giving her campaign a $20,000 boost less than a week before the general election. Hensley, a former Cass County prosecutor, ran against Hawley. Fox also gave $20,000 to the Democratic Attorneys General Association of Missouri during the 2016 election. In 2015, he gave $10,000 to former Sen. Kurt Schaefer in his primary bid against Hawley for the AG nomination.
  • Will he even run?: Hawley has remained coy about running for another office, considering the current office he holds is the first one he’s ever held. Yet he has not strictly denied running for McCaskill’s seat. Hawley reportedly spent some time with the St. Louis Post-Dispatch’s editorial board Wednesday, and they asked him whether he gave much thought to the calls on himself to run. “I do think it’s awfully early to be talking about other jobs or elections,” Hawley told the editorial board. “That’s where my head is.”