JEFFERSON CITY, Mo. — Less than one month before the primary election, a plurality of voters in northeast Missouri are undecided as to which candidate they will vote for to replace term-limited Sen. Brian Munzlinger, a new poll shows.
Four strong Republican candidates are vying to represent District 18 in the Missouri Senate. Three are current state Representatives — Craig Redmon, Nate Walker, and Lindell Shumake — with Cindy O’Laughlin running as “political outsider.”
New polling released this week, conducted by the Remington Research Group, shows O’Laughlin and Redmon inching ahead, but the plurality of voters still undecided.
Of more than 500 Missourians likely to vote in the 2018 Republican primary, nearly one third has not decided which candidate they would vote for to replace Munzlinger. O’Laughlin and Redmon are neck-and-neck — with 21 percent and 20 percent, respectively — with Shumake following at 15 percent and Walker rounding out the primary with 12 percent.
As of April filings, O’Laughlin had far outpaced the other Republicans in the race it terms of fundraising with $227,882.72 cash on hand. For cash on hand, Redmon had $68,840.07, Shumake had $20,216.62, and Walker had $15,554.12.
O’Laughlin co-owns Leo O’Laughlin Inc., a concrete- and aggregate-hauling business with locations in Shelbina, Macon and Marceline. She is running as an “political outsider” amongst a field on elected officials.
“As a political outsider, I knew I would be starting from behind. Consider this: A typical state Representative prints a column in local newspapers once a week. The three state representatives I am running against have served a combined 26 years. That’s a lot of free advertising!” said O’Laughlin. “Our campaign has been endorsed by Missouri Right to Life and we have the right message: career politicians don’t share our Northeast Missouri values.
“With less than a month remaining, I feel great about our momentum. We’re seeing more signs, hearing more radio ads and talking to more and more people that think it is time for a new voice in Jefferson City,” said O’Laughlin.
According to the poll, 33 percent of those survey had a favorable opinion on O’Laughlin with 54 percent having no opinion.
Munzlinger has endorsed Redmon to take on the position of representing Adair, Chariton, Clark, Knox, Lewis, Linn, Macon, Marion, Pike, Ralls, Randolph, Schuyler, Scotland, and Shelby Counties.
Redmon, who also owns his own small business, has served in the Missouri House for eight years. Of survey respondents, 28 percent hold a favorable opinion of him with 60 percent undecided.
“I am pleased with the results of an independent poll. My team and I have been working hard meeting constituents across the district, listening to them and sharing our message for the district,” said Redmon. “The poll indicates our message is resonating and people have a favorable opinion. We are looking forward to continuing our momentum for the next 26 days.”
Trailing by nine points in the poll is Walker. Walker comes from a varied and diverse background that ranges from farming to reality. He first served in the Missouri House from 1981-1985, before term limits, and was elected in again in 2012 where he has served three more terms.
According to the poll, 26 percent have a favorable opinion on him while 59 percent have no opinion.
“It’s about where we want to be and the only place to go is up,” Walker said.
He noted that the other candidates started out with significant fundraising advantages and have already been running radio ads and such. Walker said his campaign will not be on the radio for another day or two.
“We feel that I’m the best candidate in the race and that we will have a good cross section of support. The next 25 days will really determine who the next Senator is,” said Walker. “We are where we need to be right now and we will see how it plays out.”
Shumake is a term-limited Representative who work for the Missouri Division of Family services as a caseworker for nearly two decades and served in the U.S. Army during Vietnam.
Twenty-four percent of respondents had a favorable opinion of Shumake with 60 percent having no opinion, according to the poll.
“The poll was automated and probably only involved people with land lines. Also, there is yet a large number of undecided voters and few of those have shifted since the last poll was done in May,” said Shumake. “Each of the candidates has their strong area and therefore the result is not predictable. The only accurate poll will be on August 7.”
Whomever win the Republican primary on August 7, 2018, will face-off against Crystal Stephens — the Democratic candidate — in November.
Alisha Shurr is a reporter for the Missouri Times and Missouri Times Magazine. She joined the Missouri Times in January 2018 after working as a copy editor for her hometown newspaper in Southern Oregon. Alisha is a graduate of Kansas State University. Contact Alisha at firstname.lastname@example.org.