ST. LOUIS—State Sen. Karla May, D-St. Louis, gave her fledgling U.S. Senate campaign a public launch Tuesday afternoon in downtown St. Louis in remarks that touched on healing a divided country and holding the incumbent, Republican U.S. Sen. Josh Hawley accountable for his actions.

May criticized Hawley for his role in the events of Jan. 6, 2021, when Hawley objected to the certification of the 2020 presidential election and raised a fist in solidarity with those who came to Washington D.C. to rally in support of former President Donald Trump. Later that day, rioters attacked the Capitol.

What You Need To Know

  • State Sen. Karla May is the third Democrat to announce a 2024 candidacy for the U.S. Senate seat currently held by Republican Josh Hawley. Hawley is seeking a second term.

  • A State Senator from St. Louis, May joined a field that includes Lucas Kunce, a Jefferson City native who ran for the U.S. Senate in 2022, and St. Louis County Prosecuting Attorney Wesley Bell.

  • May is also Chair of the Democratic Central Committee in St. Louis.

She also spoke of a need for healing.

“I see a state and a nation that is being torn apart, sometimes in small ways, little threads plucked, pulled and ripped from their place in an effort to unravel the very fabric of this great nation,” she said, pointing to rulings from the Supreme Court with a 6-3 conservative majority due to appointments during the Trump presidency.

May expressed confidence in her ability to win a race that will require more money than she’s ever raised during campaigns for the Missouri House and Senate, and also features at least two other serious primary contenders. Lucas Kunce has the support of the Missouri AFL-CIO, St. Louis Aldermanic President Megan Green, Alderman and former State Rep. Rasheen Aldridge, and former U.S. Rep. Bill Clay among others, while St. Louis County Prosecuting Attorney Wesley Bell has support from 10 north St. Louis County mayors in the region.

“I’ve never signed up to run a race based on money because everytime I ran a race I was always out-raised,” she said. “When you got the right candidate you can win statewide office and I think that I am the candidate that can move the needle forward for Democrats 

May first confirmed she was looking at a statewide campaign last month and sources said the Senate race was an expected landing spot. Her announcement Saturday night was not a surprise to her new rivals.

“The State Senator and I spoke on the phone ahead of the announcement, and we had a great conversation. I’m happy to welcome her to the race and look forward to seeing her on the trail,” Kunce, who was first to enter the race in January said in a campaign statement. 

Bell, who entered the race in June, said he also talked with her.

“Karla May and I spoke about this prior to her announcement. I know her, I consider her a friend, hugged her and wished her well. Everyone has a right to run. This is the democratic process and ultimately voters will decide," Bell said in a statement released by his campaign.

If a primary has the potential to consume precious campaign resources, State Rep. LaKeySha Bosley, D-St. Louis, a May supporter, said it also offers a plus for Democrats. 

“I think that what this does is it creates an opportunity for us to be able to get people and voters engaged.”