Is Josh Hawley running for U.S. Senate? Sam Fox seems to think so

  

JEFFERSON CITY, Mo. – Missouri’s Attorney General Josh Hawley has left many wondering whether or not the Republican will run to challenge incumbent U.S. Senator Claire McCaskill in 2018. And after months of being asked, the first-time elected official still has offered no real answers except to form an exploratory committee in August.

Is Hawley reluctant to run for U.S. Senate, or just reluctant to answer the question?

But while everyone else is still waiting for an answer, former U.S. Ambassador to Belgium and regular Republican (and sometimes Democratic) donor Sam Fox seems to be under the impression that Hawley will run.

“In June, I wrote the attached letter asking people to encourage Josh to take a serious look at running for U.S. Senate in the 2018 election. As suggested in my letter, a large number of recipients did indeed reach out to encourage Josh, and I am happy to report that he is going to run,” Fox wrote in a Sept. 1 letter to potential contributors, obtained this week by Morning Consult.

The letter says Fox is organizing a fundraiser in his Clayton home for Hawley on Oct. 1, featuring a number of prominent Republican donors including Bernie Marcus, David Humphreys, and Dr. Jeffrey Gunter, as well as former Missouri Senators Jack Danforth and Kit Bond. The event, according to the letter, is scheduled to be headlined by John Bolton, the former U.S. ambassador to the U.N. under President George W. Bush.

In the letter, Fox says the minimum contribution to attend the event will be $1,000 per person, with a maximum of $5,400 per person.

“In my opinion, one of the most important things we can do for our country is send him to Washington D.C.,” Fox wrote. “The next financial reporting deadline is September 30. We need to show that Josh has the financial backing to take on a seated U.S. Senator.”

Missouri Democrats quickly jumped on the Republican for raising money behind closed doors and going beyond the scope of rules required for exploratory committees. Under the Federal Election Commission rules, individuals who are testing the waters cannot make or authorize statements that refer to themselves as candidates, but more importantly, they cannot raise more money than they would “reasonably need to test the waters.”

But, as it turns out, Hawley has some wiggle room.

Since August 2, Hawley has claimed that he filed an exploratory committee with the FEC. In fact, Hawley formally declared himself a candidate and relied on a misleading campaign committee name to dodge questions while secretly raising money from high-dollar donors and DC special interest groups,” a release from the Missouri Democratic Party said.

As of this time, no official statement has been forthcoming from Hawley, but perhaps after the Sunday night dinner, Missourians will have a better idea about who will be on the ballot in 2018.

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Benjamin Peters is a reporter for the Missouri Times and Missouri Times Magazine, and also produces the #MoLeg Podcast. He joined the Missouri Times in 2016 after working as a sports editor and TV news producer in mid-Missouri. Benjamin is a graduate of Missouri State University in Springfield. To contact Benjamin, email benjamin@themissouritimes.com or follow him on Twitter @BenjaminDPeters.