Rep. Wagner, a potential rival to Sen. McCaskill, has raised $2.7 million

Rep. Ann Wagner, R-Mo., has raised $2.7 million in a potential run against Democrat Sen. Claire McCaskill of Missouri.
Rep. Ann Wagner, R-Mo., has raised $2.7 million in a potential run against Democrat Sen. Claire McCaskill of Missouri. AP

Missouri Rep. Ann Wagner has raised $2.7 million as she prepares for a possible run against Democratic Sen. Claire McCaskill in 2018, according to federal election documents obtained by McClatchy.

In her April quarterly report that will be filed on Tuesday, Wagner’s congressional campaign committee will report $2,767,789 on hand, the documents show.

The Republican congresswoman from the St. Louis area raised $804,264 during the three-month period, her most successful fundraising quarter.

That’s more than three times the amount she raised in the first quarter of 2013 and more than double the $348,140 she brought in during the same period in 2015. It’s also more than a million dollars more than the $1.6 million Wagner had on hand in her campaign committee two years ago.

Wagner has not officially announced her candidacy for the U.S. Senate, but she’s expected to do so soon. She stepped down last week from her leadership position with the National Republican Congressional Committee, generating buzz on Capitol Hill that she will run for Senate. She’s widely considered a leading contender in what is expected to be a crowded Republican primary in Missouri next year.

Former U.S. Sen. Jack Danforth and other prominent Missouri Republicans sent an open letter to Missouri’s Attorney General Josh Hawley earlier this week, urging him to challenge McCaskill in 2018. Hawley’s office did not immediately respond to phone calls on Tuesday.

Republicans in Missouri and in Washington consider McCaskill vulnerable in 2018 since she’s running for re-election in a state that Republican President Donald Trump won by 19 percentage points in November. A Morning Consult poll released on Tuesday showed McCaskill with a 39 percent disapproval rating among registered voters in Missouri, making her the fifth least popular U.S. senator.

McCaskill’s office declined to comment on Tuesday.

Her campaign has not released her first quarterly report for 2016, which is due on April 15. The most recent filings show the Democratic senator had $781,519 on hand at the end of last year, but that number is expected to be much higher once she submits her fundraising numbers for the first three months of this year.

So far, Wagner’s fundraising efforts dwarf those of McCaskill’s last opponent, Todd Akin, a conservative congressman who lost his bid for Senate in 2012 after making controversial remarks that “legitimate rape” rarely leads to pregnancy. Akin had $910,608 on hand at this point in his campaign in 2011, with a maximum of $1,405,526 in July 2012, documents show.

As a member of the U.S. House, Wagner can transfer her cash from her congressional campaign committee, Ann Wagner for Congress, to a U.S. Senate campaign committee — potentially giving her a head start in fundraising over other Republican challengers in Missouri, who would start Senate campaign accounts from scratch.

Wagner has yet to establish a Senate committee, however. A spokesman for her congressional committee, Brecht Mulvihill, declined to comment on Tuesday.

Wagner won her seat in the U.S. House in 2012 with more than 60 percent of the vote. Previously, she worked as a manager at Hallmark Cards in Kansas City and Ralston Purina in St. Louis.

She also chaired the Missouri Republican Party and served as co-chair of the Republican National Committee during President George W. Bush’s first term. Bush appointed her as ambassador to Luxembourg, a position she held for four years.

She represents Missouri’s 2nd congressional district, a seat previously held by Akin.

Lindsay Wise: 202-383-6007, @lindsaywise