Recap on Missouri’s Political Race – Newstalk KZRG

Dozens of aspiring Missouri Republican candidates are jumping at the chance to run for two rarely-opened US congressional seats in November.

US Reps. Vicky Hartzler and Billy Long are running for Senate in Tuesday’s GOP primary, leaving the seats open for Hartzler’s central 4th Congressional District and Long’s southwestern 7th Congressional District.

The Republican primary for Hartzler’s seat includes State Sen. Rick Brattin, cattleman Kalena Bruce, former Kansas City-area news anchor Mark Alford, former Boone County Clerk Taylor Burks and former St. Louis Blues player Jim Campbell. Burks and Campbell were the top two fundraisers as of mid-July, although Campbell is primarily self-funded and not spending the money.

State sense in Republicans seeking Long’s seat. Eric Burlison and Mike Moon and former State Sen. Jay Wasson as well as Pastors Alex Bryant and Dr. Sam Alexander included. Vasan is a leader in fundraising.

All except the two current Missouri representatives won their seats when the positions opened, which is rare in Missouri.

Democratic U.S. Representative Emanuel Cleaver has served the Kansas City area since 2005, and GOP Representative Sam Graves has represented northern Missouri since 2001. Both Cleaver and Graves won after opting not to run for re-election.

One reason is that there is no federal term limit. Robin Kuhlman, a political scientist at Central Missouri University, said incumbents typically have name recognition, a financial advantage, and the ability to claim credit for local programs and government funding.

“This is why we see an increase of candidates during open seat elections,” she said. “Generally, open seat elections are a chance to enter the field with an even greater playing field.”

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John Hancock, a longtime Republican political adviser to the state, said an overloaded GOP pipeline of ambitious candidates is increasing competitiveness in Missouri’s Republican primary.

Republicans hold a nearly two-thirds majority in the State House and Senate, a traditional launching pad for political careers. He is barred from contesting re-election after serving eight years, leaving candidates grasping for other political opportunities.

“The term limit is either imminent or it is coming, and opportunities for political advancement are few and far between,” Hancock said.

He expects open Congress and statewide seats to continue to lure large swaths of Republican candidates.

Kuhlman said that in the Republican-controlled Fourth and Seventh districts, Democrats face great difficulties.

“Because of this, candidates who emerge successfully from these two Republican primaries could very well be up for a coronation despite an impending general election,” she said.

The dynamic encourages candidates to stake increasingly conservative positions to win the primary.

“I’m the most conservative legislator in Jeff City,” Burlison said during the July 20 debate.

Top issues among Republican candidates include abortion, immigration, US energy independence and gas prices, inflation, and “the general mid-term fight against the president’s party and its apparatus,” Kuhlman said.

“These races are very close to the call,” Hancock said. “It could be a very late Tuesday night.”

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