JEFFERSON CITY, Mo. – The race to become the next state senator for Missouri’s 34th Senatorial District continues to heat up, with endorsements, funds, and new allegations all coming to the forefront in the race this week.
The major news for Republican candidate Tony Luetkemeyer is Tuesday’s announcement from the Missouri Chamber PAC, which endorsed him in the race, saying he had made “pro-business issues central to his campaign.”
“Our state’s term limits have led to a high turnover rate in the Missouri General Assembly this fall. This amplifies the importance of this year’s elections as we need Missouri voters to send strong pro-business candidates like Tony Luetkemeyer to Jefferson City so that we can continue to improve our economy and foster job creation,” said Daniel P. Mehan, president and CEO of the Missouri Chamber of Commerce and Industry. “Tony Luetkemeyer is the right candidate in District 34. He knows the issues and will fight to help make our state more competitive for jobs and business growth opportunities. We urge the voters in District 34 to support Tony Luetkemeyer in the August 7 Republican primary and then vote him into office on November 6.”
“I am proud to receive the endorsement of the Missouri Chamber of Commerce and Industry in my campaign for State Senate,” Luetkemeyer said. “I will be a tireless advocate for cutting burdensome, job-killing red tape to bring more good paying jobs back to Missouri.”
Meanwhile, the other Republican candidate in the race, Buchanan County Commissioner Harry Roberts, has been the subject of recent attack ads appearing in the mail, a campaign piece titled “WANTED: Dirty Harry”, referencing a Missouri Ethics complaint against Roberts.
That complaint has been dismissed once again, as of July 23, with the MEC stating that the contribution was received prior to the effective date for the new campaign contribution rules, but was reported on the date that the contribution was deposited.
“This complaint was nothing more than a desperate attempt by my opponent to distract voters from the fact he has taken 80% of his contributions from outside the district, including $250,000 from a Washington, D.C. dark money group,” Roberts said.
But in response to the ads, the man both candidates seek to replace has now spoken up in defense of Roberts. Sen. Rob Schaaf took to social media this week after seeing the ads, saying that his fight against dark money and corruption is epitomized by this race.
In a Facebook post, Schaaf notes that the ad says “paid for by Missouri Senate Conservatives Fund, James C. Thomas, Treasurer”.
Thomas, Schaaf notes, is the treasurer for no less than 23 other committees, and politicos around Missouri know that he is often the treasurer for PACs working with Axiom Strategies, a company owned and operated by Jeff Roe.
Schaaf then goes on to connect the dots between a number of different relationships, saying that “I know this is taking quite a while to lay all these connections out, but it is very important to give a true picture of what is happening here.”
“The bottom line is that here, in my opinion, is a list of people who practice the dirtiest of dirty politics:
1. James C. Thomas
2. Jeff Roe
3. Todd Graves (head of the MOGOP)
4. Stan Herzog
5. Eric Greitens
6. Tony and Lucinda Luetkemeyer”
Schaaf further says that everything in the mailer is a lie, and urges people to vote for Roberts as his replacement.
Regarding Sen. Schaaf and his endorsement, Roberts said, “Senator Schaaf has been on the frontlines fighting corruption and dark money in politics, so it was no surprise when he endorsed my campaign for State Senate, especially after my opponent was supported by $250,000 from a Washington, D.C. dark money group.“
Here’s the full text of Schaaf’s comments:
Roe responded on Twitter to Schaaf, saying he was tired of Schaaf accusing him of illegal acts, and noting that his “illegal coordination” saved Schaaf when he helped him get re-elected.
You are really going to miss being a senator aren’t you? Everyone is dirty but you. How majestic you must think you are. Get out and enjoy your taxpayer paid job you forced down the throats of Missourians using your fleeting power. In two years no one will remember your name. https://t.co/DDttpIRlyb
— Jeff Roe (@jeffroe) July 22, 2018
Not nervous Rob. Just tired of you accusing me of illegal acts. You voted to undo term limits and grant yourself 32 more years in office but it isn’t your seat. It’s the voters. And BTW my supposed illegal coordination saved you 4 years ago when I helped you get re-elected. https://t.co/IbbXD7i22T
— Jeff Roe (@jeffroe) July 22, 2018
After the announcement about Luetkemeyer being endorsed by the Missouri Chamber PAC came out, Roberts issued a statement of his own:
“The endorsements that matter to me are the endorsements of people who actually live in the district, not Jefferson City special interest groups. In the district, our campaign continues to gain momentum, that’s why my opponent has resorted to outright lies. Lying about his endorsements. Lying about running a ‘positive’ campaign and lying about me. My opponent epitomizes corrupt DC politics and people are sick of it. That’s why I feel confident about our chances.“
Roberts’ comment about Luetkemeyer lying about his endorsements comes as his campaign says they have received written confirmation from the following organizations that they have not endorsed a candidate in this primary:
- Missouri Soybean Association
- Missouri Dental Association
- Missouri Realtors Association
All three are listed on Luetkemeyer’s campaign webpage, www.tonyformissouri.com under the link that says “Endorsements for Team Tony.”
Benjamin Peters is a reporter for the Missouri Times and Missouri Times Magazine, and also produces the #MoLeg Podcast. He joined the Missouri Times in 2016 after working as a sports editor and TV news producer in mid-Missouri. Benjamin is a graduate of Missouri State University in Springfield. To contact Benjamin, email email@example.com or follow him on Twitter @BenjaminDPeters.