JEFFERSON CITY, Mo. – Another candidate could be entering the race to challenge incumbent U.S. Senator Claire McCaskill.
Rep. Marsha Haefner, R-Oakville, says she is considering running for the GOP nomination in what might turn out to be a rather crowded field in the Republican primaries, which could include Attorney General Josh Hawley, Rep. Paul Curtman, State Treasurer Eric Schmitt and former Libertarian presidential candidate Austin Petersen.
“Until I find a reason not to run, I intend to run,” she said. “A lot of it comes down to financial support, but I am going to be optimistic that I will get the support that I need.”
The decision to announce her intent to run, Haefner says, will be made on whether she believes she can raise the money required to run a successful campaign. Haefner says she will be visiting Washington, D.C. later this month to discuss how to get the necessary funding and support for a bid. She said she hopes to make some connections up there and speak with consultants to begin laying the groundwork for a potential run.
U.S. Congresswoman Ann Wagner announced early in July she would not run. Haefner had been considering a run for Wagner’s seat if the Congresswoman had decided to run for U.S. Senate.
Haefner said when Wagner made the decision, she received a call from the Congresswoman, who was apologetic but also encouraged the term-limited Haefner to run for Senate, saying they needed a strong candidate to run against McCaskill. Haefner has received a number of calls and messages from people urging her to consider a run.
But the fact Haefner would be the lone woman in the race does not give her any pause.
“Women are very underrepresented in the Republican Party, and I would like to correct that. I’m not going to run a campaign on that, but I think I can set myself apart with my experience in healthcare issues and my record.”
Haefner’s record with voters has been a positive one, consistently winning, but she’s also built a relationship with her constituents by trying to take the time to hear them out and represent their wishes as best she can.
Republicans have their eye on the prize in 2018, hoping one of their conservative candidates can defeat the Democratic senator. It will be a hard fight to win for the GOP, but several Republicans note it can be done, recalling the polling numbers Todd Akin had put up against McCaskill, who had actually been leading in the polls before his comments concerning rape and abortion derailed his campaign’s support. Her seat is also viewed as vulnerable in part because of Republicans’ significant victories in 2016, including a 19-point victory for President Donald Trump. And in a time when healthcare is the top issue in Washington, Haefner’s knowledge of the issue could be a major boon for Republicans.
Haefner says her only real concern is the possibility of negative campaigns.
“The thing that worries me is the negatives. This is a family decision, and it affects everyone,” Haefner said. “That’s what I worry about most. I hope we can stay truthful and positive.”