ST. LOUIS–Months after losing the Democratic nomination for Missouri’s U.S. Senate seat, Lucas Kunce announced a second attempt at the office Friday, which could pit him against Republican Sen. Josh Hawley in 2024.

On the anniversary of the Jan. 6 insurrection at the U.S. Capitol which Kunce said Hawley helped incite, Kunce released a campaign announcement referring to the way Hawley was seen running from the Capitol building in surveillance video released by the congressional committee which investigated the incident.



Ahead of the vote to certify the 2020 presidential election, Hawley announced he would object, and raised a fist in support of backers of former President Donald Trump prior to the riot which broke out at the Capitol on Jan. 6, 2021. Hawley has defended his opposition to election certification, and his campaign has sold mugs depicting his raised fist.

A Marine veteran of the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, Kunce ran a populist campaign in 2022, attacking political leaders for helping corporate interests who he says have left Missouri towns "stripped for parts". Kunce lost a primary against Anheuser-Busch heir Trudy Busch Valentine by five points last August. That populist theme re-emerged in an interview with Spectrum News Friday, but Kunce made clear that Hawley's role in the events on Jan. 6, 2021 would be a central theme over the next two years.

"I tell you right now, as a marine in Iraq or Afghanistan if we’d run off like he did when there’s any sign of danger, we would have been court martialed, right, I think it’s time for the people of Missouri to court martial this guy and get him out of office because Missourians don’t want to be represented by a fraud and a coward," he said.

Kunce said Busch Valentine had urged him previously to run against Hawley. Efforts to reach Busch Valentine for comment were not immediately successful.

Hawley has said he plans to seek re-election to the Senate in 2024. 

"We welcome this desperate woke activist to yet another political race. He just barely finished losing his last one. Maybe he’s running in the wrong state," a Hawley campaign spokesman told Spectrum News. 

Kunce did not directly answer when asked if he hoped to avoid a contested primary. The Missouri Democratic Party retweeted his campaign announcement, but did not immediately respond to questions seeking comment. Democrats will hold no statewide offices heading into the 2024 campaign cycle and just two of the state's eight congressional seats. 

"I was very glad to see Lucas announce today," Randi McCallian, a Southeast Missouri Democrat who ran unsuccessfully against U.S. Rep.-Elect Jason Smith R-Salem last year and has already announced her intent to run for the seat in 2024, told Spectrum News. "The Democratic party here in MO seems to need candidates to be the organizing momentum, so I'm glad he announced so early and can help keep our state-wide momentum building."