Sen. Claire McCaskill reaping campaign donations from outside Missouri

Monday, March 26, 2012 | 4:19 p.m. CDT

ST. LOUIS — U.S. Sen. Claire McCaskill, who has been bombarded by ads from out-of-state interest groups, is relying heavily on money from donors outside Missouri to help finance her re-election campaign.

Non-Missouri residents contributed about 60 percent of the $3.7 million McCaskill raised from individuals who gave at least $200 to her campaign since 2007, according to an analysis of campaign finance data by the St. Louis Post-Dispatch.

That's a bigger percentage of out-of-state money than most of the other 22 U.S. senators facing re-election this year. Together, 48 percent of their donations of $200 or more came from outside their home states.

The analysis, reported Monday by the newspaper, used donations as of Dec. 31 and excluded donations of less than $200, which are not included in the Federal Election Commission's database.

McCaskill, a Democrat, already has been targeted with advertisements by national groups such as Crossroads GPS and the U.S. Chamber of Commerce. Crossroads GPS, a Washington group founded by political strategist Karl Rove that spends money to help elect Republicans, has labeled McCaskill as one of its top targets for the 2012 election. It spent more than $1.5 million on advertisements against McCaskill in 2011, said Nate Hodson, a spokesman for the group.

Because of the influence of spending by outside groups, it's crucial for candidates to reach beyond their home states for donors, said Anthony Corrado, a political science professor at Colby College in Maine who studies campaign finance issues.

Senators such as McCaskill will need "to raise as much money as they can from wherever they can to defend themselves," he said.

The share of money McCaskill received from out-of-state donors was higher than Senate incumbents running in most other battleground states. However, several of those states, such as Ohio, Pennsylvania and Florida, have larger populations than Missouri and so offer a larger pool of potential donors from which to draw.

McCaskill's campaign manager, Adrianne Marsh, said that when the border-crossing metro areas of Kansas City and St. Louis are factored into McCaskill's fundraising, nearly half of her contributions come from "right here at home." She said more than two-thirds of McCaskill's individual contributions are from donors who give less than $200.

McCaskill also has fared well with Missouri residents. She raised almost as much in donations of $200 or more from inside Missouri as her three Republican challengers combined. Together, U.S. Rep. Todd Akin, former State Treasurer Sarah Steelman and St. Louis businessman John Brunner raised roughly $1.49 million from individual donations of $200 or more from Missourians, just surpassing McCaskill's $1.47 million, according to Federal Election Commission data.

Of the slightly more than $1 million Akin raised from donations of $200 or more, 7 percent came from outside of Missouri. Steelman raised 25 percent of her $578,000 from outside of the state. Thirty-eight percent of the $207,000 Brunner raised came from outside of Missouri.

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