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Missouri Republicans from the national, state and local levels descended on Springfield this weekend for the state Lincoln Days.
Lincoln Days, a three-day event hosted annually by the Missouri GOP, cycles between Springfield and the St. Louis and Kansas City areas. This year being Springfield’s turn, the weekend full of presentations, meetings and workshops began on Friday, Feb. 10, and will wrap up Sunday, Feb. 12, at the University Plaza Hotel and Convention Center.
Following a 2022 election that saw Republicans retain supermajorities in the General Assembly, fend off a Democratic challenge for an open U.S. Senate seat and secure control of every statewide office, attendees had a lot to celebrate.
Springfield event an opportunity for local official to launch statewide campaign
While a number of politicians promoted their own agendas and re-election campaigns at Lincoln Days, it was a launching opportunity into campaigning for a new office for others.
Greene County Clerk Shane Schoeller announced his campaign for Missouri Secretary of State on Feb. 10, the first day of Lincoln Days.
“It certainly couldn’t have been a better place to be able to do it,” Schoeller said in an interview with the Springfield Daily Citizen. “Especially, you know, there’s folks from our area that are here, but also, there’s folks from across the state that you don’t get to see every day. So you kind of get the best of both worlds.”
It was only a few days prior, on Feb. 8, that state San. Denny Hoskins announced his plan to run for statewide office, although the exact position is yet to be disclosed. With Hoskins being a certified public accountant, State Treasurer has been considered as a possibility. That office is currently held by Vivek Malek, who was appointed by Gov. Mike Parson in December.
Most of Missouri’s statewide office holders were in attendance, in addition to U.S. Senators Josh Hawley and Eric Schmitt and U.S. Rep. Byron Donalds from Florida.
Members of the Missouri General Assembly, and a number of Republican committee members from the Greene County GOP all the way to the Republican National Committee also were present.
Even Donald Trump made an (audio only) appearance on Feb. 10, as heard in a video posted by St. Louis Public Radio Political Correspondent Jason Rosenbaum on Twitter.
Meetings, workshops highlight new statewide office holders
Malek was joined by recently appointed Attorney General Andrew Bailey, recently elected Scott Fitzpatrick, 2024 gubernatorial candidate and incumbent Lt. Gov. Mike Kehoe and current Secretary of State Jay Ashcroft, whom many expect also to run for governor.
Bailey was selected by Parson to succeed former Attorney General Schmitt after his successful U.S. Senate campaign, but will have to face an election in 2024 in order to retain the office. He, in particular, touted the work he’s done in his first six weeks as Missouri’s attorney general.
Recently, Bailey opened an investigation into Washington University in St. Louis after a whistleblower alleged in a sworn affidavit that the University’s Transgender Center at St. Louis Children’s Hospital was lying to the parents of patients about treatment, or the lack thereof, and its side effects.
“When I get allegations brought to my attention of abuse, mutilation, purposeful harm in the name of a radical, woke, left-wing agenda, I am going to use every resource in my arsenal to engage and destroy the enemy and say no to child abuse in the state of Missouri,” Bailey told the audience ahead of the state committee meeting, which erupted into applause.
Schoeller and Ashcroft, alternatively, emphasized something more relevant to their respective offices: election integrity.
In a workshop panel where they were joined by state Sen. Sandy Crawford and state Rep. Dan Stacy, they fielded questions and comments from an audience who, while celebrating the integrity of Missouri’s elections, wanted to see certain problem areas addressed.
Schoeller emphasized the need to provide county clerks’ offices with more funding, suggesting that they were barely able to carry out their current duties with their current resources.
“They don’t have the budget to do the things that you want them to do,” Schoeller said to the audience. “So it’s gonna take resources to be able to do some of those things.”
Schoeller also doubled down on the need to have bipartisan election judges to prevent fraud and ensure election integrity. He suggested that Democrats in rural areas will serve as election judges under the guise of a Republican, and Republicans will do the opposite in urban areas.
“I want to work with you to make sure that we have real Republicans there and the election and frankly, I want the Democrats to make sure we got real Democrats out in the rural parts of the state as well, because that’s how we have a much better chance to trust the outcome of elections,” he said.
Despite touting the election integrity of both Greene County and Missouri, Schoeller’s early campaign is already focusing on fighting election fraud.
Schoeller referenced instances of voter fraud that happened in Kansas City in 2010 and St. Louis in 2016, and said that it was “something we have to be vigilant about.”
“Elections are challenging,” he said.
Speakers at the various events also championed closed primaries and the movement to change Missouri’s initiative petition process and strongly opposed ranked-choice voting, among other issues.