Trudy Busch Valentine, Democrat candidate for U.S. Senate, during a sidewalk interview in downtown Springfield on Oct. 1, 2022. (Photo by Shannon Cay Bowers)

ANALYSIS |

Democrat Trudy Busch Valentine thinks it is time for immigration reform, starting with increased border security to cut off the flow of dangerous drugs, and including a path to citizenship for hard-working immigrants already among us.

In an interview with the Springfield Daily Citizen, Busch Valentine touched on a host of issues, including the U.S. role in the war in Ukraine and the tough battle ahead to wrangle inflation back to the range of 2-3% annually.

She even joked that she and her Republican opponent on Nov. 8, Attorney General Eric Schmitt, had something in common: “We both like the St. Louis Cardinals.” 

She added: “I’m sure if I sat down with Eric Schmitt, there would be places that we agree. And that’s why I want to go into the Senate, because we have to work together. Democrats, Republicans, independents, we have to sit down and work together to get things done.”

On immigration issues, Busch Valentine said part of the problem is that “Democrats and Republicans have kicked the can so far down the road.

“We need immigration reform. We need to secure our borders. But we also need to look at the hard-working, taxpaying good people that are already in America. We need them to be able to find a path to citizenship, and we need to treat anybody that’s trying to leave their countries because they could be killed or hurt. Everyone needs to be treated with humanity.”

She redoubled her commitment to securing the border in response to a question about the increasing dangers of opioids, including the synthetic and powerful drug fentanyl.

“I’d say we need to secure our border, for sure. And we cannot allow these people that are dealing in drugs, any drugs, but especially fentanyl that can kill with such a small amount. … My son died of an opioid overdose (in 2020), which kills me, but which really makes me able to talk to people that have gone through the same thing.”

Busch Valentine gets visibly choked up when sharing her life story, including the family tragedies she has experienced. She thinks the empathy she has for others is an asset.

“Because I’m a nurse, my whole life has been about service for others. I care about people, I love Missouri. … I want to work for the people of Missouri. I believe this, being a senator, is another form of service, but at a higher level where I can reach more people and do good things for more people.”

Trudy Busch Valentine chuckles during presentations at a fundraiser Oct. 1, 2022, for women seeking state House seats in Greene County. (Photo by Shannon Cay Bowers)

‘Giving back was the best thing I could do’

While Schmitt likes to poke at her wealth by referring to her as “The Heiress Valentine,” Busch Valentine said neither she nor Schmitt picked the family to be born into. She is the daughter of Gertrude Buholzer Busch and August (Gussie) Anheuser Busch Jr., who grew the Anheuser-Busch companies into the largest brewery in the world.

“I was born into a family that lived the American dream. And I’m grateful for that. My dad built a company with union workers, and the people that worked at the brewery loved working at the brewery. … But also you decide what you want to do in life and what you want to be after you’re born and you start growing up. And my parents taught us that to whom much is given, much is expected. And really, my whole life, even as a middle kid in a family of seven, was about helping everyone out, helping with, helping my parents. And understanding that giving back was the best thing I could do.”

Busch Valentine says her wealth would give her an advantage as an elected official. “I’m not in this for power or money. I can’t be bought.”

As an example, she said: “I’m not going to be in the pockets of pharmaceutical companies, or insurance companies. I’m going to be out there protecting people so that they can get the health care they need, and that they can get the medicine that they need.”

Busch Valentine has investments in health care, defense industries

In her financial disclosure statement filed July 3 with the U.S. Senate, Busch Valentine did report several large investments in pharmaceutical companies, including holding between $500,001 and $1 million in shares of Abbott Laboratories and $250,001 to $500,000 in Abbott’s spin-off AbbVie; as well as $500,001 to $1 million in companies such as Merck, Johnson & Johnson, and Amgen, another biopharmaceutical company.

  • She also had holdings in other health care stocks, such as UnitedHealth Group, HCA Healthcare, CVS, LivaNova, and Regeneron Pharmaceuticals. 
  • She showed large investments in aerospace and defense contractors, such as Lockheed Martin, Northrop Grumman, Raytheon, and Honeywell, and tech companies, such as Apple, Cisco, Microsoft and Google’s Alphabet Inc.
  • Her largest investments were in mutual funds and index funds, as well as a variety of municipal bonds and real estate, including her share of Grant’s Farm, a tourist attraction where she grew up, listed at $5 million to $25 million.

In total, she reported assets between $67.5 million and $214.7 million. If elected, Busch Valentine has committed to placing assets in a blind trust and not trading stocks.

For his part, Schmitt reported July 1 that he had personal assets valued between about $450,000 and about $1.2 million. He reported owning no individual stocks or bonds. 

Trudy Busch Valentine, Democrat candidate for U.S. Senate, shares her views with a group of nursing professionals in Springfield on Saturday, Sept. 17, 2022. In the background is Diane Smith, assistant professor, Missouri State University School of Nursing. (Photo by David Stoeffler)

Inflation, war in Ukraine among other topics

While independently wealthy, Busch Valentine said she would focus on building a strong middle class as key to growing the economy. 

“In Missouri, we need more good jobs, we need more businesses to come here. We need more manufacturing plants. We have to get more union jobs going again, bring back the union jobs, because they have really been the best path to having a strong, working middle class family with good benefits, good vacations, good health care, all those things.”

She was pessimistic about the fight against inflation. “Well, I think that’s going to be difficult” to bring inflation under control. She cited the war in Ukraine and the lingering effects of the COVID-19 pandemic. “We still have had back-ups (supply chain delays) in being able to get things to America. We need to start manufacturing more products in America so we don’t get into these types of situations.”

As for the war in Ukraine, Busch Valentine supports efforts of the Biden Administration. “I think that the U.S. should give as much support as we can. …  Ukraine needs to stay a democracy, and we have to fight for those democracies. If Russia wins, if Putin wins this war, he will go into other countries and try to destroy their democracy, too.”

STORY CONTINUES BELOW

Schmitt declining interview requests

The Daily Citizen has reached out to the Schmitt campaign, which has thus far declined to respond a request for an interview.

He has refused interview requests from the editorial boards of the state’s two largest newspapers — The Kansas City Star and St. Louis Post-Dispatch — saying they are the “liberal media” and claiming that “two-thirds of their reporting and commentary has been negative” against Schmitt. 

On the stump

For October Crime Prevention Month, Schmitt rolled out a series of endorsements from law enforcement leaders across the state. Among the area sheriffs and others endorsing Schmitt are:

  • Jim C. Arnott, Greene County, Sheriff
  • Andy Zinke, Greene County, President of Springfield Police Officers’ Association
  • Chris Welsh, Greene County, Former President of Springfield Police Officers’ Association, Sergeant at Arms of Missouri Fraternal Order of Police
  • Brad Cole, Christian County, Sheriff
  • Brad Daniels, Taney County, Sheriff
  • Cass Martin, Ozark County, Sheriff
  • David Millsap, Laclede County, Sheriff
  • Danny Boyd, Barry County, Sheriff

AdWars

Schmitt released his second broadcast TV ad, highlighting his “working-class roots and the lessons he learned from his dad, who worked the midnight shift at the Anheuser-Busch brewery.”

Tweets of the Week

The Daily Citizen Senate Campaign Digest is compiled by David Stoeffler, CEO of the Daily Citizen. Stoeffler has more than 30 years of experience in covering politics in Wisconsin, Nebraska and Missouri. If you have tips or suggestions for the Senate campaign coverage, you may email him at dstoeffler@sgfcitizen.org.

David Stoeffler

David Stoeffler is the chief executive officer of the Springfield Daily Citizen. He has more than 40 years experience in the news business, having been a reporter, editor and news executive in Wisconsin, Nebraska, Iowa, Arizona and Missouri. You may email him at dstoeffler@sgfcitizen.org or call 417-837-3664. More by David Stoeffler