Some of the negative TV ads against U.S. Senate candidates are paid for by independent Political Action Committees. (Illustration from screenshots)

ANALYSIS |

It’s a campaign finance edition of the weekly U.S. Senate Campaign Digest from the Springfield Daily Citizen.

We are getting another “horse race” measure of the campaigns, as Democrat Lucas Kunce leads the entire field in fundraising as of June 30, according to reports filed late Friday with the Federal Elections Committee.

While political reporters will be dissecting reports in the coming days, getting into details about the funding sources and the spending patterns, here are some highlights from the top line numbers:

Kunce reported $4.48 million in receipts for the 2022 cycle, with spending of $3.61 million — leaving about $871,000 cash on hand. His campaign news release touted the amount raised in the second quarter: “In the second quarter of 2022, Kunce outraised everyone in the race with a total of $1.15 million from over 30,000 donations, with 98 percent of donations under $200 and an average donation of $37.”

Kunce does not take money from corporate Political Action Committees, and limited amounts from other PACs. In total, he reported about $23,000 has been raised from PACs, including $7,500 total from VoteVets, a PAC based in Oregon. Kunce is a Marine veteran.

On the Republican side, Attorney General Eric Schmitt leads the field, with U.S. Rep. Vicky Hartzler close behind — and former Gov. Eric Greitens is in fourth, trailing state Senate Pro Tem Dave Schatz, and just $100,000 ahead of U.S. Rep. Billy Long.

But numbers can be deceiving: Schatz has loaned $2 million to his campaign, boosting his total raised to $2.3 million. Long has loaned his campaign $750,000 of his total $2.06 million in receipts through June 30, while Greitens has loaned his campaign just $30,000. (Schmitt and Hartzler have not loaned any money to their campaigns; St. Louis attorney Mark McCloskey has loaned his campaign $5,000.)

Schmitt’s campaign took the unusual tack of promoting the amount of money amassed by outside groups supporting his candidacy — even though those groups are purportedly “independent.” His news release noted the $3.56 million he has raised in total (including nearly $600,000 in the quarter) and then said his campaign “leads the primary field” in fundraising when you consider “an additional $9.4 million from outside groups that support Schmitt’s America First campaign.”

The numbers for the leading candidates on the Republican side:

Candidate
(link to report)
Receipts
thru 6-30
Spending
thru 6-30
Cash
on hand
Eric Schmitt$3,558,633$2,081,367$1,477,266
Vicky Hartzler$3,368,776$2,534,888$1,479,319
Dave Schatz$2,310,675$965,094$1,345,581
Eric Greitens$2,168,266$1,816,686$351,580
Billy Long$2,063,261$1,610,807$927,565
Mark McCloskey$1,090,607$1,054,641$35,966

On the Democrat side, loans account for most of the fundraising totals for Trudy Busch Valentine, a nurse and heir of the Busch beer family of St. Louis, and also for St. Louis entrepreneur Spencer Toder. Busch Valentine has loaned her campaign $2 million of her total raised through June 30. Toder has loaned his campaign nearly $883,000, while Kunce has not loaned any money to his campaign. The numbers for the leading Democrat candidates:

Candidate
(link to report)
Receipts
thru 6-30
Spending
thru 6-30
Cash
on hand
Lucas Kunce$4,476,551$3,605,616$870,934
Trudy Busch Valentine$2,378,573$1,595,738$782,835
Spencer Toder$1,033,357$504,735$528,622

Watch for more reporting in the coming days on campaign finance reports.

Story continues below:

Independent spending ramps up

Candidate campaigns are only a part of the spending picture. And you don’t get a clear idea about the volume of spending by outside groups even when looking at the June 30 reports those committees filed with the Federal Elections Commission. More money is flowing as we get closer to the Aug. 2 primary, and that money is going largely to TV commercials, plus some canvassing efforts and door hangers.

Still, two so-called Super PACs stand out:

  • Save Missouri Values reported receipts of $5.7 million, including $1.5 million in donations by Rex Sinquefield, the wealthy St. Louis businessman and political activist. The PAC opposes Greitens, and supports Eric Schmitt. Through June 30, the committee reported spending about $780,000 in the Senate primary, but that’s just a fraction of the total to come.
  • Team Pac has $2.5 million in receipts as of June 30, all from billionaire Illinois businessman Richard Uihlein, founder of Uline (a shipping supply company) and also a descendant of the original brewers of Schlitz beer. As of June 30, the PAC had spent $2.35 million total — about $1.3 million to oppose Schmitt and $1 million to oppose Hartzler. The PAC is pro-Greitens.

In his entertaining weekly Star Politics newsletter, Daniel Desrochers, the Kansas City Star’s correspondent in Washington, D.C., did a nice job reviewing the spending by independent Political Action Committees. An excerpt:

Looking at how the PACs spend their money can tell you a little bit about the race. For example, U.S. Rep. Billy Long hasn’t gotten any support from his PAC since May, even as the other PACs have picked up their spending with just a few weeks before the primary.

The attacks are also limited to just former Gov. Eric Greitens, U.S. Rep. Vicky Hartzler and Missouri Attorney General Eric Schmitt. Until the Show Me Values PAC was created in June, there was just $73,950 spent against Greitens and it all came from Schmitt’s PAC. Now more than $3 million has been spent attacking the former governor. Schmitt has faced $1.3 million in attacks, but has gotten more than $1.6 million in support. Hartzler has gotten more than $2 million in attacks from Schmitt and Greitens but has gotten little support from the PAC supporting her, which was more focused on Katie Britt in Alabama until the recent filing period.

Desrochers then provides an informative run-through of the main PACs, where they get their money and how they are spending it. He includes: 

  • Missouri First Action (pro-Greitens)
  • Team PAC (pro-Greitens; anti-Schmitt; anti-Hartzler)
  • Save Missouri Values (pro-Schmitt; anti-Greitens; anti-Hartzler)
  • Show Me Values (anti-Greitens)
  • Secure our Freedom Action Fund (pro-Hartzler)
  • WinMO PAC (pro-Long)
  • Missouri Stands United (pro-John Wood, the independent candidate)

On the stump in Southwest Missouri

Lucas Kunce meets with Strafford farmers

From the candidate’s press release: On July 10, Lucas “Kunce met with beef and dairy farmers in Strafford to talk about the issues impacting their work — Big Ag’s mission to crush independent farmers, Right to Repair laws, the need to boost manufacturing jobs and start making shit in America again, foreign land ownership, a corrupt meatpacking industry, and more.”

AdWars

Ad from Hartzler campaign:

Ad from Save Missouri Values (PAC is pro-Schmitt; anti-Greitens; anti-Hartzler):

Ad from Team PAC (PAC is pro-Greitens; anti-Schmitt; anti-Hartzler):

Ad from Schmitt campaign:

Tweets of the week

The Daily Citizen Senate Campaign Digest is compiled by David Stoeffler, CEO of the Daily Citizen. Stoeffler has more than 30 years of experience in covering politics in Wisconsin, Nebraska and Missouri. If you have tips or suggestions for the Senate campaign coverage, you may email him at dstoeffler@sgfcitizen.org.