Republican Vicki Hartzler is running for U.S. Senate.
The 4th district is still the most interesting because there is a field of qualified candidates and an entire field of potential candidates who will reshape the race if they get in. Senate Floor Leader Caleb Rowden could jump in and he would become the favorite — with his holdback being that there already are two candidates from Boone County in the race.
The other senator who seems more likely than not to run is Sen. Rick Brattin. He would be an excellent congressional candidate who is in midterm and like Rowden, wouldn’t have to give up his seat to run. I think both are more likely than not to enter the race, but each week that goes by without them leads you to think they might not.
Cass County Commissioner Ryan Johnson entered the race and withdrew, but he will be highly influential to whoever gets his support. I do think that he is likely to be at a Capitol someday; maybe he starts at the state Capitol.
Former Rep. Caleb Jones and current Sen. Denny Hoskins are another two who would reshape the race but seem closer to not running than the other two. Now onto the folks who have announced.
Kalena Bruce is a cattle farmer who has a great deal of connections in the Missouri ag community and is the only candidate who not only has filed but is even rumored to run from the southern part of the district.
She has some video on stage with Trump that you will probably see in the campaign and has some ability to self-fund as she has already put $80,000 into the race. She will have to make a decision next quarter if she can raise more money or is she going to primarily self-fund. If none of the four mentioned above jump in, she will have a chance to consolidate her base in the ag community and the southern part of the district and be the frontrunner after filing closes.
Contributions this period: $100,610
Contributions this cycle: $100,610
Cash on hand: $160,558
Taylor Burks did what he needed to do: post a $100,000 quarter. He is a veteran who was previously appointed to be the Boone County clerk and has a story to tell. The question was: Would he have the resources to tell that story?
He would be the biggest beneficiary if Sen. Rowden doesn’t enter the race. If that is the case, and he can either continue raising or self-funding, then Burks will have a claim to being the frontrunner.
Contributions this period: $109,498
Contributions this cycle: $109,498
Cash on hand: $168,607
Rep. Sara Walsh
Rep. Sara Walsh posted nearly $40,000 this quarter which is pretty strong for someone who is more known for grassroots than fundraising prowess and having to deal with a personal tragedy during the third quarter.
It seems her campaign will either be won or lost depending on her ability to amass the largest number of conservative activists and try to hang competitive in the race long enough for an out-of-state group to boost her finances closer to August.
It’s really to read much more into the quarter as she has been dealing with far bigger issues than a congressional race but should be commended for continuing forward and everyone can revisit her campaign later.
Contributions this period: $39,060
Contributions this cycle: $39,060
Cash on hand: $24,144
Republican Billy Long is running for U.S. Senate.
This race is one where you could make a case for all of the major candidates, and it could come down to geography as it appears that they will have different geography and lanes to run in.
State Sen. Eric Burlison
Sen. Eric Burlison came out of the gate with a big fundraising haul and a couple of endorsements that could be key next summer.
He has a conservative pedigree and perhaps the strongest relationships with the Republican activists in southwest Missouri. He probably has to find a way to get separation from Sen. Mike Moon and isolate the race as himself vs. former Sen. Jay Wasson. At the start, he is a top contender.
Contributions this period: $147,536
Contributions this cycle: $147,536
Cash on hand: $143,862
State Sen. Mike Moon
I have written many times on this tipsheet not to underestimate the campaign skills of Sen. Mike Moon, and in his burst out of a first-quarter raising $100,000, he made me look smart again. Some have said he can only play spoiler for someone, but I think he has every chance to win. If the negatives start flying between Jay Wasson and Eric Burlison, then Sen. Moon, if he can continue to raise money, can fly right between them and into Congress.
Contributions this period: $103,847
Contributions this cycle: $103,847
Cash on hand: $96,865
Former State Sen. Jay Wasson
Sen. Jay Wasson is perhaps the most successful state senator since term limits. He will start the race as the clear fundraising favorite as no one has better relationships in the Springfield business community than Wasson.
If the other three candidates fight it out for the far-right activists, and Sen. Wasson establishes a lead in fundraising, he will be the favorite.
He is in the mold of Senator Roy Blunt when he held the 7th congressional district for several terms before entering the Senate and has the real advantage of having the support of his friend, former Sen. Ron Richard. Can you imagine being the house in Joplin that tells Ron Richard he can’t put up a Wasson sign?
Contributions this period: N/A
Contributions this cycle: N/A
Cash on hand: N/A
He’s a farmer and an emergency room physician in Springfield. He has significant potential to self-fund and is the only candidate in the race who has never held public office. He will compete for the right-wing vote and cast his net as not just conservative, but very conservative. He’s a quiet but strong candidate who just may surprise a few folks.
Contributions this period: $39,480
Contributions this cycle: $39,480
Cash on hand: $120,147
Republican Congresswoman Ann Wagner is seeking re-election.
Congresswoman Ann Wagner
Everyone was predicting that CD 2 was going to be decided by a razor-thin margin in 2020 with President Trump on the ballot and a very good campaigner in state Sen. Jill Schupp, the Democratic nominee. However, Congresswoman Ann Wagner ended up winning by a comfortable margin.
However, 2022 is not 2020. ‘22 is the mid-term of a less than overwhelming Biden presidency which should provide an advantage to Wagner. While there are some talented Democrats running, Jill Schupp was a big figure who from the start would outshine them. Lastly, 2022’s CD 2 won’t be the same CD 2 as 2020. It will be more Republican. Now, don’t look for Missouri Republicans to be as clearly shamelessly crooked as Illinois Democrats, but CD 2 will be redder. With all those factors in mind, this is probably the last cycle CD 2 is even tracked as long as Congresswoman Wagner serves in it.
Contributions this period: $500,153
Contributions this cycle: $1,741,157
Cash on hand: $1,352,211
State Rep. Trish Gunby
Rep. Trish Gunby fits the profile of the district pretty well, and she proved her ability on the campaign trail when she flipped a Republican state rep seat Democratic. She could start the race possibly expecting the same support as Sen. Schupp and try to build out. However, while she has raised her first $100,000, she has an opponent in the race who has raised six times that, and in the best-case scenario, she would start a general election campaign with no money.
Contributions this period: $130,086
Contributions this cycle: $130,086
Cash on hand: $81,330
Ben Samuels is a businessman with family money who has previously worked for the mayor of Chicago. He has immense connections to wealth, but more importantly, he has been able to tap those connections to jump out to a huge fundraising lead.
Some Democrats hope he could be another Courtney VanOstran who only lost by 4 percent in 2018. It appeared that the lack of a record and being under the radar was a benefit and maybe a better matchup for Democrats than in 2020.
Contributions this period: $636,720
Contributions this cycle: $636,720
Cash on hand: $552,466
Ray Reed is the youngest candidate in the field and is a former Nixon and Missouri Democratic Party staffer. He is trying to tap some of the college students in the area to get behind his efforts. The bottom line is that Reed is no different than anyone else in that he will have to raise money — and fast — to mount a serious campaign.
Reed is going to work a grassroots campaign and try to at least make a name for himself to run again in the future. Keep an eye on him. If 2022 isn’t his year, he will likely have one soon.
Contributions this period: N/A
Contributions this cycle: N/A
Cash on hand: N/A
Scott Faughn is the publisher of The Missouri Times, owner of the Clayton Times in Clayton; SEMO Times in Poplar Bluff; and host of the only statewide political television show, This Week in Missouri Politics.