Websites of the leading candidates for U.S. Senate in the Aug. 2 primary in Missouri.

In six weeks, voters in southwest Missouri have a chance to play a critical role in the statewide vote on candidates for the U.S. Senate seat being vacated by Republican Senator Roy Blunt of Springfield.

In all, 21 candidates are seeking the Republican nomination in the Aug. 2 primary. Another 11 people are seeking the Democratic nomination. (See complete list below)

The winners of the primary elections will face off, with added Libertarian and Constitution Party candidates, in the general election on Nov. 8.

In the weeks leading up to the primary, the Springfield Daily Citizen will provide a weekly digest of news about the race, helping local voters sort through all of the information available from the campaigns and other media.

In this edition of the digest, we rundown the list of all candidates on the ballot, as well as highlight the folks leading the polls. We share some flavor of the race so far, including an insightful Kansas City Star story from a former Springfield reporter about the potential role of voters in Greene County and southwest Missouri. And we have links to recent local visits by Republican Vicky Hartzler, who was on the Missouri State University campus on Friday, and Democrat Lucas Kunce, who was in Republic visiting a marijuana dispensary.

Six candidates lead the Republican field, including local “favorite son,” Billy Long, an auctioneer and well-known personality who chose to give up his safe 7th District seat in the U.S. House for a chance at a six-year term in the Senate. The other top candidates include:

  • 4th District U.S. Rep. Vicky Hartzler, who likewise gave up her safe seat after six terms. She was the second Republican woman elected to Congress from Missouri.
  • Missouri Attorney General Eric Schmitt, who became the state’s top law enforcement officer in 2019, replacing Josh Hawley, who won election to the U.S. Senate. 
  • Former Gov. Eric Greitens, who served 18 months before being resigning amid allegations of sexual assault, domestic violence and campaign finance violations. He has denied most of the allegations and paid a $38,000 settlement for the campaign finance complaint.
  • Mark McCloskey, a St. Louis attorney who became famous after a June 2020 incident in which he and his wife brandished guns while defending their home from what they described as a mob. It was a group of about 500 Black Lives Matters protesters attempting to march to the nearby home of St. Louis Mayor Lyda Krewson.
  • Dave Schatz, who most recently served as president pro tem of the Missouri Senate and completed two four-year terms in the Senate. He previously served two terms in the Missouri House. Schatz is vice president of Schatz Underground, Inc., a family-run business.

Three candidates top the Democratic field:

  • Trudy Busch Valentine, a latecomer to the campaign, who is a nurse and daughter of Anheuser Busch Jr., who grew the Anheuser-Busch companies into the largest brewery in the world.
  • Lucas Kunce, a Marine veteran, attorney and director of national security at a nonprofit organization that advocates corporate accountability legislation. He has been the leading fundraiser among all candidates through March 31.
  • Spencer Toder, a St. Louis entrepreneur and CEO of a startup medical device company.

Story continues below:

C.W. Gardner, a Republican candidate for U.S. Senate who has made mocking better-known opponents in satirical videos a major part of his campaign, after filing on Feb. 22 (Campaign photo via Facebook).

Let’s meet all the candidates

Compiled by the Missouri Independent

Overall, many readers might be surprised to find out that Missouri’s Senate race this year drew 34 entrants. While the lesser-known struggle for attention, here are the major party candidates for U.S. Senate, in ballot order, with their current occupation, if known. 

Republicans

Democrats

Libertarian Party – Jonathan Dine of Kansas City

Constitution Party – Paul Venable of Lincoln

Story continues below:

From the campaign trail

Hartzler visits Missouri State University

Kunce visits Republic marijuana dispensary

In the news

Springfield Mayor Ken McClure and his June 2 State of the City address figured into The Kansas City Star’s analysis of the role Southwest Missouri could play in deciding the outcome of the U.S. Senate race. Asked by the Star whether voters are looking for a senator in the mold of outgoing Sen. Roy Blunt, “McClure’s answer in so many words was basically: no.” (Screenshot from livestream of address)

‘You can take the state:’ Why Southwest Missouri plays a big role in the GOP Senate race

Jonathan Shorman, a former political reporter for the Springfield News-Leader and now lead political reporter for The Kansas City Star, showed his insight into our area with this story. He reports: “For decades, Springfield and southwest Missouri have been a GOP stronghold and one of the biggest concentrations of reliable GOP voters in the whole state. A libertarian spirit fostered by the forested Ozarks, a “buckle of the Bible Belt” reputation and a lack of racial and ethnic diversity have helped make the region an enduring bastion of conservatism. … As candidates frantically search for support, Springfield and the surrounding counties that make up the 7th Congressional District will be key to victory.” Read more

Missouri’s GOP Senate candidates want Trump’s endorsement. Its power is being tested

Daniel Desrochers reports for The Kansas City Star: “The leading Republican candidates running for U.S. Senate in Missouri have long coveted Trump’s endorsement, perceiving a blessing from the most powerful member of their party as a potential catapult to the nomination, heaving them ahead of a crowded field.” Read more

Missouri congresswoman’s pro-gun mailer arrives just days after Texas school massacre

Kurt Erickson reports for the St. Louis Post-Dispatch: “Just days after the massacre of 19 students and two teachers at a Texas grade school, Missouri voters received a taxpayer-paid mailer featuring photos of a Republican candidate for U.S. Senate holding an assault-style weapon like the one used in the school shooting. U.S. Rep. Vicky Hartzler, who represents the state’s 4th Congressional District, used her congressional mailing privileges to send a flyer to constituents this week about her positions on gun control.” Read more

Opioid death of son inspires first agenda item for Democratic Senate candidate Trudy Busch Valentine

Rudi Keller reports for the Missouri Independent: “When beer heiress Trudy Busch Valentine announced her campaign for U.S. Senate, she pointed to her son’s 2020 overdose death as a key motivation for deciding to enter politics. A web ad launched on Mother’s Day delved into Matt’s story. And now, Valentine is making action on the national opioid epidemic her first significant policy proposal since joining the race in March.” Read more

AdWars

You might wonder about the source of two TV ads recently appearing on KY3. One attacked Vicky Hartzler as being weak on illegal immigration, while the other praised Eric Schmitt for leading the fight to secure the border. Both were paid for by Save Missouri Values, a conservative Super PAC based in Kirkwood, a suburb of St. Louis. The group also has paid for ads elsewhere opposing Greitens.

Anti-Hartzler ad paid for by Save Missouri Values
Pro-Schmitt ad paid for by Save Missouri Values

Tweet 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.