ST. LOUIS – Following Rep. Paul Curtman’s announcement for the state auditor’s race, the panelists on Sunday’s episode of This Week in Missouri Politics talked about how the former Marine Sergeant would fare against Republican David Wasinger, a respectable St. Louis accountant and lawyer, and incumbent Democrat Nicole Galloway.
While Wasinger and Galloway are both certified public accountants, Curtman said at his announcement that his leadership skills and willingness to work across party lines separate himself from the other candidates. Panelist Rep. Shane Roden said that Curtman exhibits many of the same qualities of the last Republican auditor, Tom Schweich.
“He reminds me a lot of Tom Schweich. He’s that bulldog Marine,” Roden said. Rep. Phil Christfanelli agreed and said that Curtman may win because of his following of conservative activists.
“He has captured the hearts and minds of conservative activists across this state,” Christfanelli said. “He starts out with an army of people who will work with him. That’s something money cannot buy.”
While Wasinger, Curtman’s challenger for the Republican nomination, has never held office, he has almost $650,000 on hand. Galloway has had $850,000 contributed to her campaign and has over $514,000 on hand. In contrast, Curtman has had over $10,000 contributed to his campaign and has only $6,000 on hand.
The Republican primary may be challenging for Curtman because he is neither a lawyer nor an accountant, but according to Jo Mannies, a journalist for St. Louis Public Radio, it is not unthinkable for candidates to rely heavily on their military career and win campaigns for public office anyway.
“He is like the third in a series of candidates who have a military background and who have used it well,” she said. “While he does have some financial background from his years in the general assembly, it’s not the kind of stuff that Galloway will be emphasizing.
“As a rule, the auditor generally has been somebody that has been a CPA or a lawyer, Mannies continued. “Schwiech was not an auditor, but he had a whole bunch of experience in fiscal issues.”
During his time in the House, Curtman has served on the House Committees on Economic Development, Downsizing State Government, and Ways and Means – of which he is currently the chair. Host Scott Faughn found that if there was a candidate in the state auditor’s race similar to Schweich, it would actually be Wasinger – to which Mannies agreed.
“Curtman first is going to have to get past Wasinger, who I’ve known for a long time. He’s very a very sharp lawyer,” Mannies said. “Depending on how Wasinger structures the race – and the fact that he put a half of a million dollars of his own money [into his own campaign,] it indicates he’s serious. He’s not just playing around.”
Faughn believed that the race will be a tough one for Curtman. Both he and Roden joked that the current political climate does not always value experience the way it previously did.
“Wendell Bailey once told me when he was a young man, he said, ‘give a young man a chance’ and now that he’s older he says, ‘experience counts.’”
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Michael Layer is a reporter for the Missouri Times and the Missouri Times Magazine. He joined the Missouri Times in August 2017 after graduating from Goucher College the previous May. To contact Michael, email firstname.lastname@example.org or follow him on Twitter @_MichaelLayer