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JEFFERSON CITY, Mo. (AP) – Missouri Republicans are coalescing around Attorney General Josh Hawley as their favored candidate to challenge veteran Democratic U.S. Sen. Claire McCaskill in 2018, which would set up a marquee contest between a wily incumbent and an up-and-coming political newcomer in a state that’s trending conservative.

McCaskill is among 10 Senate Democrats running in states won by President Donald Trump, making the Missouri race an opportnity to flip a Senate seat to Republicans. The GOP now has a narrow majority of 52 Senate seats.

Republican political strategist James Harris, who worked as a consultant with Hawley, says the 37-year-old attorney general would be a “perfect candidate.”

But Hawley was just elected attorney general in 2016 and could come under attack for trying to hop from one political job to another.

By SUMMER BALLENTINE, Associated Press