As Republicans consider his challenger, Koster builds campaign war chest

Attorney General Chris Koster

Attorney General Chris Koster

JEFFERSON CITY, Mo. – With the race for the Democratic nomination for governor essentially cleared for himself, Missouri Attorney General Chris Koster’s campaign is spending its time raising money to compete with his eventual Republican rival.

In his campaign’s quarterly report to the Missouri Ethics Commission, which was filed late Wednesday, Koster reported $3.3 million in the bank, more than all five of his potential rivals have raised, combined. Between September 30 and March 31, Koster raised $1.24 million.

“We are truly grateful for the tremendous support the committee has received from across the political spectrum and across the state,” said Andrew Whalen, Koster’s campaign manager. “Missourians understand that Attorney General Koster is fighting for working families and protecting our communities.”

This quarter was Koster’s first since his campaign instituted a new policy meant to eliminate potential conflicts of interest between it and the lawyers and corporations with whom his official office does business. The policy came after a scathing report was released by the New York Times alleging Koster and other attorneys general had become too cozy with those advocating before their offices.

Last quarter, Koster returned a total of $10,000 to three donors – Thomas Schwartz, Mark Gaertner and James Holloran – whose contribution violated the policy his campaign adopted in November.

The campaign has weaved their new policy into its finance materials. On the back of Koster’s fundraising envelopes and on his fundraising invitations, Koster makes his policy against accepting contributions from those involved with litigation against his office clear.

While Koster has not yet officially announced his run (his committee still says he is running for re-election next year), his new campaign team has already begun to form. Whalen, who most recently managed Vincent Sheheen’s campaign for governor of South Carolina, joined the campaign late last month, and Erika Brees – who has raised money for Democratic U.S. Sen. Claire McCaskill – has been helping the campaign with its fundraising.

Last month, Koster kicked off a fundraising swing with events in Springfield and St. Louis designed to galvanize supporters ahead of a full lunch later this year.

While Republicans are battling amongst themselves for the nomination to challenge Koster, Democrats here have mostly united behind him. The Missouri Democratic Party has hired David Turner, an Obama for America alum who most recently served as press secretary for Mark Warner’s U.S. Senate campaign in Virginia, to manage its communications for the governor’s race.

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