U.S. Rep. Jason Smith said Tuesday that he raised more than $250,000 in his first few months in office as he prepares for a potential Republican primary challenge next year to retain his southeast Missouri seat.
Smith won a special election in June to succeed Rep. Jo Ann Emerson, who resignation earlier year ended a 32-year run of Emerson family representation in Congress. But Lt. Gov. Peter Kinder already has said he may challenge Smith in the 2014 Republican primary for the 8th Congressional District.
Campaign finance reports due Tuesday to the Federal Election Commission marked the first chance for Smith to show his fundraising prowess as an incumbent member of Congress.
Smith reported raising $254,200 from July through September and, after expenses, had $159,206 remaining in his campaign account as of Sept. 30. Smith's campaign treasurer called that "an outstanding fundraising quarter."
Kinder reported raising $55,377 and spending a nearly equal amount this past quarter for his lieutenant governor's campaign committee. Including money he previously raised, Kinder had $57,390 in his state campaign account as of Sept. 30.
But if he runs for Congress, Kinder could not use all of that money. Instead, he would have to start from scratch with a new federal campaign committee.
In February, Smith defeated Kinder and several others to become the Republican nominee to succeed Emerson. But that decision was made by an 84-person committee of Republican leaders in the 8th District — not by the thousands of rank-and-file Republicans who might vote in next year's primary election.
Kinder, of Cape Girardeau, has won three statewide elections as lieutenant governor and previously served as a state senator, giving him widespread name recognition in southeast Missouri.
Smith, of Salem, served several terms in the Missouri House and rose to the No. 2 position of House speaker pro tem before getting the GOP congressional nomination and defeating Democratic state Rep. Steve Hodges in the June special election.
If there is a competitive Republican primary for the 8th Congressional District, it would be one of the few high profile races in Missouri next year. The only statewide executive office up for election is auditor.
Republican Missouri Auditor Tom Schweich reported raising nearly $281,000 during the past quarter, with almost $506,000 in his campaign account as of Sept. 30.
Democratic state Rep. Jay Swearingen, who launched an auditor's campaign earlier this month, reported receipts of over $11,000 during the quarter and a campaign balance of a little more than $18,000 as of Sept. 30. Swearingen, of Kansas City, said Tuesday that he has assembled a campaign team and expects to have the resources needed to spread his message.
Democratic Attorney General Chris Koster, who is planning to run for governor in 2016, reported his second consecutive quarter of raising at least a half-million dollars. Koster reported receipts of $548,000 from July through September and a total of nearly $1.2 million in his campaign account. No Republican has entered the governor's race yet.