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Panel talks changes in 2018 U.S. Senate landscape


Who will represent the Republicans in the race for U.S. Senate in 2018?

That was the question most heavily debated during the July 9 episode of This Week in Missouri Politics.

Steven Roberts, the chief of staff to the St. Louis Sheriff’s Dept. joined Spencer Fane attorney Jane Dueker;  Victory Enterprises’ Vice President of Digital, Joe Lakin, and State Representative Phil Christofanelli to speak on the changing landscape in the upcoming 2018 U.S Senate race.

Still more than a year out from the election, the question of who will face off against the incumbent Democrat, Claire McCaskill, continues to be the subject of many conversations in Missouri’s political realm. Congresswoman Ann Wagner, predicted by many to be the frontrunner, announced she would not run for the seat earlier in July, leaving the to panelists discuss their feelings on who was suited for the position.

Speaking first, Lakin emphasized that the field is wide open for potential candidates in means of statewide elected officials, meaning this would only leave more room for various candidates to step up and make the attempt to run for Senate. At this time, only two candidates have announced: Tony Luetkemeyer and Austin Petersen.

But the panelists listed a number of candidates that have a promising chance at running and winning, including names like Josh Hawley, Blaine Luetkemeyer, Paul Curtman, Eric Schmitt and Vicky Hartzler.

Having good connections with the Republican Party, Christofanelli spoke of the actual likelihood that they would run. He added House Speaker Todd Richardson as one who has considered running for Senate, although he did admit that Richardson might have changed his stance running for Senate. Christofanelli said that if Richardson were to run, he would not be without a fair amount of support from the Missouri House.

Christofanelli went to explain that the Republican Party has enough potential candidates that show promise of taking the position away from its current holder, Claire McCaskill. That being said, he also said that there is a possibility for a primary election between Republican candidates, which according to him, may not be a bad thing for the party, considering the victory with the Governor’s race last year.

While talking about the relationship between her and Wagner, Dueker spoke of the commitment one needs to assume the role of a U.S. Senator. She supports Wagner and her decision to recede from the race, considering Wagner’s success as a representative.

Roberts, meanwhile, addressed his relationship with McCaskill. Calling back to Trump’s victory in the 2016 presidential race, what he predicts is an influx of unfamiliar candidates following that same trend: multi-millionaires coming out of the woodworks to make an impact on government before they retire.

The discussion came to an end when they finally gave their thoughts on who would actually be the primary candidate against McCaskill. With Dueker and Stevens agreeing that it was too early to predict and Lakin and Christofanelli listing off all who would run, there was no set person in anyone’s mind for the position.