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Missouri lawmaker launches exploratory committee on challenging McCaskill

WASHINGTON — Missouri Republican state Rep. Paul Curtman is considering a bid for Democratic Sen. Claire McCaskill’s seat in one of the more high-profile races expected in next year’s midterm elections.

Curtman, who has served in the Missouri legislature since 2010, said Thursday that he was launching an exploratory committee, a move that allows him to begin raising money for a potential campaign.

“For too long, we’ve watched Washington politicians, insiders, and bureaucrats chip away at the rule of law while at the same time growing the size of government and creating budget deficits that will take generations to pay off,” Curtman said in a statement Thursday. “Our families and our job creators deserve better. We need a fiscal conservative who will fight for personal freedoms and sound financial principles.”

Curtman, a former Marine, has not previously run for statewide office. He is one of a number of Republicans weighing a bid for the seat currently held by McCaskill. President Donald Trump won the state by 19 points in November’s election.

Missouri’s attorney general, Josh Hawley, is receiving pressure from a number of high profile Republicans, including Vice President Mike Pence, to enter the race. State treasurer Eric Schmitt and Missouri Rep. Vicky Hartzler are also considering entering the race.

Missouri Rep. Ann Wagner was considered a potential front-runner for the seat but announced earlier this month that she would instead seek re-election to her House seat.

McCaskill, who has held the seat since 2007, announced Monday that she had raised $3.1 million for her re-election in the second quarter of this year.

Austin Petersen, a former libertarian presidential candidate, and Tony Monetti, a Republican retired Air Force pilot and assistant dean at the University of Central Missouri, have announced their plans to run.