“I hired a seven-term starter and nobody thought we could win. And not only did we win, but we won big, and we’re going to take exactly the same approach to this campaign, » Bell said. « Here’s how we’re going to win. »
By Bell launch videos highlights his work in quelling tensions between police and protesters in Ferguson, Mo., and becoming the first black prosecutor in St. Louis County.
Missouri is a reach for Senate Democrats in a general election, but it’s one of their top three opportunities, along with Florida and Texas, in a map that sees them almost entirely on defense. However, given Hawley’s role in opposing President Joe Biden’s election victory and zeal for the culture wars, whoever wins the primary is likely to raise big bucks and build national name recognition.
Bell is one of the most prominent figures in the post-Ferguson Missouri Democratic Party, winning a seat on the Ferguson City Council in the aftermath of the police killing of Michael Brown. She then defeated McCulloch by focusing on criminal justice reform.
Bell declined to specifically confront Kunce, but spoke of building bridges, a « responsible » approach to reforming the filibuster and defeating « the Democratic political establishment » with his 2018 campaign.
But Bell, in the interview, focused most of his criticism on Hawley, who according to Bell « is trying to get famous on Twitter. »
« I think he drops bombs but I don’t think he has any interest in real solutions, » he added.
Getting out of the primaries will take a lot of work and money. Kunce has already proven her fundraising prowess in the 2022 Senate race, raising $5 million but still losing the primary to Trudy Busch Valentine, who spent about $15 million of her money. Valentine lost the general election by 13 points to Sen. Eric Schmitt (R-Mo.).
Kunce raised $1 million in his first quarter of the 2024 race.
And while Democrats are eager to rally against Hawley, he will surely start the race as a heavy favorite over any Democratic candidate. Missouri is essentially red now, with former President Donald Trump winning the state by 15 points in 2020. A strong candidate could move the Senate race closer, but it would still be an uphill battle.
Hawley defeated former Senator Claire McCaskill (D-Mo.) in 2018 by nearly 6 points. McCaskill was the last Democrat to win a Senate race in Missouri in 2012, though Democrat Jason Kander came within 3 points of defeating former Senator Roy Blunt (R-Mo.) in 2016.
Bell said he was used to being an underdog and being questioned: « That’s exactly the same thing I was told when I ran for St. Louis County Attorney. »
“The predictions, the insiders. Even some friends tell you that there is no way to win,” she added. « We have no intention of conceding seats. »