JEFFERSON CITY, Mo. – One of the state’s most influential special interest groups has given their first round of endorsements to statewide candidates.
Missouri Right to Life (MRL), a staunch opponent of abortion and related measures, is expected to release a complete list on Monday, but the chosen Republicans from the six statewide races have already begun posting their letters of endorsement on social media.
For governor, MRL will throw their weight behind Lt. Gov. Peter Kinder, former Speaker Catherine Hanaway and businessman John Brunner. They decided not to endorse former Navy SEAL Eric Greitens. Dave Plemmons, MRL’s PAC chair, said they reached out to the Greitens campaign to enquire about his stance, but heard nothing from him or his campaign.
“Missouri Right to Life made frequent and repeated attempts to obtain a completed candidate survey from Mr. Greitens and requests for a meeting with the candidate. Those attempts were unsuccessful,” he said. “We are disappointed that returning a survey reflecting positions on life issues, in writing, was not a campaign priority given the hundreds of thousands of pro-life Missourians who will help decide the primary winner.”
Kinder has long counted the group as one of his closest allies. Kinder received the “Defender of Life” award from the organization in 1999, and in 1997, he wrote the partial-birth abortion ban as a state senator.
— Peter Kinder (@PeterKinder) June 23, 2016
Hanaway was also a fierce proponent of anti-abortion legislation during her time in the legislature and sparked a wave of anti-abortion policies when she became Speaker. She was one of Missouri’s first sponsors for a waiting period on abortions in Missouri. Brunner has not had the opportunity to enact legislation, but he has repeatedly spoken about his pro-life stances. He is also a member of the board of directors for Grace Evangelistic Ministries and cites his faith as a reason for his views on abortion. “I’m thrilled to have won Missouri Right to Life PAC’s endorsement,” Brunner said in a statement. “Whether it’s standing up to protect the lives of the unborn or working in mission fields across the world, Jan and I have always believed in putting our faith into action. Missouri needs a constitutional conservative outsider for Governor – not a liberal and not a career politician like Chris Koster.”
Those endorsements could hold some sway over the gubernatorial election.
A 2012 Gallup poll found that one-sixth of registered voters will vote solely based on a candidate’s view on abortion, although that group does split among those in the pro-life and pro-choice camps nine percent to seven percent. Still, that data means almost one-tenth of all voters in the electorate will vote for a candidate solely because they promote anti-abortion measures.
Other candidates confirmed to be getting the nod from MRL so far include candidate for attorney general Sen. Kurt Schaefer, R-Columbia; and candidate for state treasurer Eric Schmitt.