Looking forward to the 2018 election: Who are the top contenders?
Likely to Run
Congresswoman Ann Wagner
With a $2.7 million dollar war chest and very high name id in the state’s largest media market, it has long been assumed that she would run for this seat since the Akin debacle in 2012. Wagner has a conservative voting record and a resume including serving as an ambassador that no one else in the field can match. However, in this political climate is an actual resume of accomplishments a good thing? Further, how does she handle the snafu of un-endorsing then re-endorsing President Trump last fall?
Attorney General Josh Hawley
Hawley has proven to be one of the most talented politicians to burst onto the Missouri political scene in decades. Going from a University of Missouri law professor to the top Missouri’s law enforcement official is a rocket to the top. He started his campaign with a letter from several leading Missouri Republicans asking him to run and has a national network of Federalists Society donors that he can tap. However, some have questioned how it looks to be seeking another office after only a handful of weeks in the one he was just elected to. Hawley himself even criticized such moves in his television ad campaign.
Mulling a Run
House Speaker Todd Richardson
The Speaker is at the top of a growing bench of seasoned republican leaders who seem ready to run or statewide office. Richardson has brought the gavel down on a historic list of Republican priorities and is one person who is universally respected by everyone he works with. Some assume he may choose to run for State Auditor in 2018 but would be a top flight contender for the US Senate seat if he chose to run.
Former Representative David Steelman
A Wagner vs. Hawley primary would be fun to cover, but if Rolla’s Reagan joined the race there would literally never be a boring minute. Steelman is outspoken and wildly quotable. However, that outspokenness may prove to be his Trump card. He was one of the earliest and most outspoken supporters of both Governor Eric Greitens and President Donald J. Trump. If the primary were to be about who would be the most loyal ally of the president in the Senate, then he is the man.
However, although his wife Sarah Steelman is the former State Treasurer and has been on the statewide ballot in 2008 and 2012, David Steelman hasn’t been on the ballot since 1992. Also, he has been tasked with cleaning up the mess at the University of Missouri which may mean he simply doesn’t have time to run.
Attorney David Wasinger
Wasinger is a straight shooting successful attorney and businessman. He has been interested in running for office himself for some time, and he is no stranger to politics as he is the husband of St. Louis County Councilwoman Colleen Wasinger. He has roots in rural northeastern Missouri and has no record to defend. Maybe most interesting is that his style would certainly have some appeal to Trump supporters in the state. However, Wasinger has a lot of options. He is currently being considered for the US Attorney position, and if the job goes to Bill Corrigan he could take a look at running in the 2nd Congressional district as well.
Congresswoman Vicki Hartzler
She has a long conservative record, and a good network of grassroots conservative supporters the state. She seems to have taken a strong look at the race, but a great deal of that talk has died down in recent weeks. It may be that she is simply waiting to see how the field shapes up. In a multi-candidate field, she could be seen as the most conservative. However, to a large portion of the Republican electorate, any congressional voting record could be attacked.
Mentioned potential candidates
Senator Mike Kehoe
The most respected member of the legislature and a close friend of Senator Roy Blunt. If he chooses to run he an insistently becomes a top tier contender.
Congressman Jason Smith
Makes a lot of sense for him, but how could he leave one of the most promising careers in the entire United States Congress at this point?
Former Lt. Governor Peter Kinder
His signing of the letter encouraging Hawley’s campaign seems to signal he isn’t interested, but until filing closes never count out Peter Kinder.
Congressman Blaine Luetkemeyer
He is always mentioned as a candidate for every statewide office but at this time doesn’t seem intent on running.
Businessman David Humphreys
At some point, almost every major donor explores running themselves. Many see his signing the letter encouraging Hawley to run as evidence that he is no longer interested.
NASCAR Driver Carl Edwards
An interesting candidate who would be right in line with the types of candidates that Missouri voters have been electing in recent years.
Senator Ryan Silvey
Senator Silvey is one of the most articulate carriers of the mainstream republican message. A former state member for Senator Bond he remains close to the senator to this day. He is someone who in a multi-candidate race could stand out as the candidate with not only ideas but bold ideas. It would certainly make the primary more interesting.
Former Party Chair Ed Martin
He has been a candidate for several offices in recent cycles and always enjoys being talked about. With the turmoil in the nonprofits that he works for many feel that he is looking to work for the Trump administration.
2nd Congressional District
Former House Speaker Catherine Hanaway
She would be a top contender and a solid heir to Wagner’s legacy. She broke ground as the first woman to serve as Speaker of the House and is still has some fire left in politics after running for Governor last summer.
Representative David Gregory
A clear rising star in the Republican Party, it’s likely a cycle too soon for the very popular freshman representative to run for Congress. While he is quick to dismiss such discussions, there are already several St. Louis County leaders openly discussing Gregory’s the very bright future.
Representative Paul Curtman
A darling of the right he knows how to organize grassroots conservatives and would be a force if he enters the race. He is a Marine and is on a first-name basis with almost every Republican activist in the district. If the field grows to three or four he likely becomes the favorite.
Former House Speaker Tim Jones
He seems like an ideal congressional candidate. His views are very far to the right and he seems to have figured out how to use social media to effectively speak to the republican base. He has also been a successful fundraiser. For a long time it was assumed that he would run, but in recent months more question if he plans to be on the ballot in 2018.
Senator Bill Eigel
He is off to a strong start in the legislative session and proved he can win tough primaries in 2016. Eigel is a straight shooter who has done nothing but earn respect since his election. Being that he wouldn’t have to give up his Senate seat to run and that there are currently no St. Charles candidates being mentioned, he may have a solid opportunity lining up for him.
U.S. Army Veteran Sam Gladney
He is the type of candidate that Democrats need to be competitive in this district. He is a veteran and seems to have the ability to appeal to some of the former Gephardt voters who are now voting republican.
County Councilman Sam Page
He has served as a State Representative and ran statewide before, but he seems more likely to stay in that safe seat than risk it and run for congress.
Senator Jill Schupp
She might be the best candidate in a long shot race, but that would require her to leave her hard fought for state senate seat in 2018.