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Primary Previews: Senate District 2

St. Charles County, Mo. — The suburbs are up for grabs in Senate District (SD) 2 in what many predict will be the most contentious and expensive primary of 2022.

SD 2 is currently represented by term-limited Sen. Bob Onder, who was a notable member of the Senate’s conservative caucus. The district is currently a Republican strong-hold, with nine of ten state Representatives in the county being Republican.

With Onder on the way out, two Republican lawmakers have staked their claim for nomination in August’s primary election.

Rep. Nick Schroer and Rep. John Wiemann both serve House districts that include the city of O’Fallon, Mo. Schroer’s House District (HD) 107 also contains part of Wentzville. Wiemann’s HD 103 lies to the south, containing Cottleville and part of Howell.

Both candidates have notable ties to SD 2 and prominent reputations from their time in the House, making SD 2’s primary a premier match-up with a lot of money on both sides.

Nick Schroer

Rep. Nick Schroer on the House floor in Jefferson City, Mo. on June 20, 2021. Schroer sponsored a 7-1 redistricting map during spring session. (HOUSE COMMUNICATIONS/TIM BOMMEL)

The ties between Schroer and the Senate’s conservative caucus are apparent.

Schroer was an advocate of a 7-1 map during Missouri’s congressional redistricting process. Onder has personally endorsed Schroer as his replacement and has committed to being activley involved in the primary race after dropping out of his County Executive campaign.

However, Schroer distanced himself from the conservative caucus and said he doesn’t see the ties to the caucus having an impact should he be elected.

“I’ve always been a one man wolf pack, so to speak, when it comes to my legislative career,” Schroer said. “There’s plenty of times where I’ve had to stand up to my party like I had to in the redistricting battle… There’s other times where I’ve had to bring the party together and broker deals.”

Onder will be “devoting time, money, attention, man-power and data” to the Schroer campaign, the Representative said during a phone call with the Missouri Times.

Schroer wants to see a return to a functioning Senate when session begins again.

“I think what we’re seeing with the Senate, the dysfunction in the Senate, we need a true leader that’s going to walk right into that dumpster fire — and be able to knock some heads together and get people to remember why we are there,” Schroer said. “We are there to work for the people. We’re there to stand by the people that elected us. And they want to see progress.”

Schroer’s platform has three key components, education reform, criminal justice reform and tax relief. His background as an attorney gives him some additional insight into crime reform outside of the traditional Republican stance.

“It’s time that we start holding habitual offenders accountable,” Schroer said. “Ultimately, it’s holding our prosecutors accountable if they’re not going to uphold their oath to prosecute these these violent criminals. When they’re basically disregarding the laws that the legislature passes.”

“I think that there is reform that we have to look at certain sentencing reform when it comes to possibly marijuana, given the fact that we now have medical marijuana … So I think in turn, we’re gonna have to start examining those non-violent cases to see the strain and the impact that they’re having on our state. And possibly re-evaluating those cases and granting parole or other relief in those situations,” he added.

Schroer iw expected to do well in grass-roots campaigning, though he feels he can win over the small business in SD 2, a base that Wiemann is expected to do well with.

“That’s where I think we’re gonna have the majority of our support is going to be out of the grass-roots and out of the small business owners and people that are just frustrated with these country club types of Republicans,” Schroer said.

Thus far Schroer has been endorsed by the State Fraternal Order of Police, a big constituency and influential group amongst the voters of suburban St. Charles County.

On the fundraising front Rep. Schroer has kept pace due to a large donation from the head of Arrowhead Building Products Rick Pogue, and a recent $10,000 check from the 100 PAC. He may have to rely on more support from those two entities if other outside groups get involved on Wiemann’s side as the race unfolds.

Schroer’s campaign finances

Contributions during first quarter: $21,291

Largest contributor: TIED, Rauchel & Joshua Koehnemann, KBuild Construction Co., Kevin Malutinok, Magna Air Group LLC, $2,400 each

Loans taken out: None

Cash on hand: $122,149

Pac support: 1776 PAC Cash on hand: $193,002

Largest contributor to PAC: No contributions received in first quarter

Total cash on hand: $315,151 

John Wiemann

John Wiemann on the House floor. Wiemann served as the Speaker Pro Tempore during his time in the House. (HOUSE COMMUNICATIONS/TIM BOMMEL)

John Wiemann comes to the race with a reputation for being at the center of passing several major Republican priorities during his eight years in the House, including serving in House leadership as the Speaker Pro Tempore.

Wiemann has been aligned with with the majority of Republicans in the Senate, and has been a consistent leader in advocating for business friendly policies. Wiemann currently serves on the O’Fallon and Cottleville/Weldon Springs Chambers of Commerce.

Wiemann doesn’t see himself engaging in some of the more personal attacks the Senate has been besieged with in recent sessions. He wants to get away from the personal drama in policy making.

“I’m running as John Wieman for State Senate Republican from St. Charles County. My position is going to be like it’s always been … I’m going to be the mature and statesman-like person in that body,” Wiemann said. “I’m not going to be a bomb-thrower — I’m not going to be someone who’s going to always be trying to create drama and trying to self-promote.”

Government transparency and advocating for businesses are a major parts of Wiemann’s platform. The support of the business community in SD 2 will be important to his campaign.

“I’ve always been very much an advocate for transparency in government. Because I think, the more transparency you have in government, the better the government behaves,” Wiemann said. “Of course, I’ve always been a very big advocate for the business community, making sure we have a business friendly community, and that includes lower taxes.”

If elected, Wiemann wants to lower the tax burden on Missourians without reducing funding to first-responders. However, he has made it clear he doesn’t want to enter the Senate with an agenda in mind.

“I don’t want to go to Jeff City with any specific agenda,” Wiemann said. “I’m there to address the problems. I’m a problem solver. I’ve always been a problem solver. I’m more of a doer and less of a talker.”

Wiemann hopes that his strong business connections and local ties can be counted on as campaign season kicks into full-swing.

“Historically, I’ve gotten a fair amount of support from the business community. Because once again, I’m that kind of person, I’m a business person. I’m a member of the Chamber of Commerce. I’m a member of the National Federation of Independent Business owners. And so I’m a business person and so naturally, I get support from business community,” Wiemann said.

Perhaps the biggest factor in the race will be whether or not the Right Path PAC which in April had over 2.5 million dollars on hand chooses to weigh in for Wiemann in the race. If they do then the race will be as hotly contested and well-funded as any Senate primary in recent memory.

Wiemann’s campaign finances

Contributions during first quarter: $7,400

Largest contributor: RailPAC MO $2,400

Loans taken out: None

Cash on hand: $146,432

PAC support: JW Leadership Fund PAC Cash on hand: $86,881

Largest contributor to PAC: TIED Turnkey Mobile Inc., Missouri Network Alliance, $1,000 each

Total cash on hand: $233,313

The winner between Schroer and Wiemann will go on to face Democratic candidate Michael Sinclair in the general election. Sinclair is running unopposed in the Democratic primary and has not served in state-level politics before. Sinclair has not reported any campaign contributions as of June 13.

Editorial Note: This story is part of a series covering every Senate primary race in Missouri. There is no Democratic primary for Senate District 2

All campaign finance information from the Missouri Ethics Commission