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Primary Previews: Senate District 22

Jefferson City, Mo. — One of Missouri’s most crowded 2022 Senate races will take place in Senate District (SD) 22. SD 22 lies entirely within Jefferson County.

The district currently stands as a Republican strong-hold. All six of Jefferson County’s State Representatives are Republican, with one seat vacated by former Rep. Becky Ruth, who is also a Republican.

Current Sen. Paul Wieland defeated then Democratic candidate Jeff Roorda in 2014, garnering 54% of the vote. Wieland went on to win decisively as an incumbent, winning by over 20% in the 2018 election.

Wieland will be leaving the Senate due to term limits, with four Republicans running with the hope to take his place.

The Republican candidates are, Rep. Mary Elizabeth Coleman from Arnold, Rep. Shane Roden from Cedar Hill, former Rep. Jeff Roorda, who served as a Democrat before switching to the Republican party in January, and Rep. Dan Shaul from Imperial.

Each of the candidates served in House districts that fall inside of SD 22, giving them all local ties to the suburban district.

Mary Elizabeth Coleman

Mary Elizabeth Coleman stands with three of her six children after the signing of HB 429. (ELISE EAKER/The Missouri Times)

Coleman is a mother of six and views herself as a “conservative fighter.” A former Arnold Alderwoman, Coleman flipped House district 97 in 2018, defeating an incumbent democrat.

Coleman hopes to protect the Republican seat in SD 22.

“With Paul Wieland termed-out, I think it’s important to have a strong conservative voice at the State Senate who’s going to not just vote for the conservative issues, but who’s going to fight for that,” Coleman said. “So that’s, I think really what differentiates me in this race — I’m going to be working really hard to fight for the party platform.”

Coleman believes she can appeal to a wide array of conservative voters. She expects to do especially well with pro-life voters.

In her time in the House Coleman was among the most aggressive anti-abortion Republicans. Proposing a bill that would allow for private citizens to sue other citizens for helping those who obtain an abortion outside of state lines.

“For those who are looking for someone who’s going to be a champion for the unborn, I’m going to be their strong favorite,” Coleman said. “I think that no matter what your base issue is, when you look at whether it’s protection of privacy rights, or immigration, protecting our labor force. That (Coleman’s platform) is going to really resonate.”

Despite her intent to “fight for the party platform,” Coleman doesn’t want the Senate to get tangled up in the conservative caucus versus moderate Republican squabbles that have plagued policy-making recently.

“I think that fighting for policies is incredibly important. But that’s different from fighting with personalities,” Coleman said. “No matter what constituency is represented at the Senate, whether they’re Democrats or Republicans from rural or more suburban areas. I’ve worked with anybody and everybody to pass the kinds of issues that my voters care about in Jefferson County.”

Coleman hopes to see her fellow Republicans work together instead of engaging in the intra-party conflicts that have become characteristic of past sessions.

“I am very conservative. But I hope that we’re going to see a return to a functioning Senate next session,” Coleman said. “My hope is that we’re gonna have a new day in the Missouri Senate, because at the end of the day the Republican supermajority has got to learn to work together.”

Coleman’s Campaign Finances

First quarter contributions: $20,955.25

Loans: None

Biggest contributor: Believe in Life and Libery, BILL PAC, $2,500.00

Conservative Solutions for Missouri PAC Cash on hand: $15,315.00

Total money on hand: $97,304.00

Shane Roden

Rep. Shane Roden on the House floor. Roden would be Missouri’s youngest Senator if elected. (TIM BOMMEL/HOUSE COMMUNICATIONS).

Roden is considered the under-dog in this race, which is something he’s used to. Roden entered state-level politics after the 2012 election, saying he was tired of politicians and lawyers running for office. At the age of 31 he was considered a heavy underdog in his 2014 House race.

“I was young and politically inexperienced at that time (2014 House race), I started door knocking and was considered the underdog in that race and somehow managed to pull it off,” Roden said. “I was energetic. I have a public servant’s heart and they (voters) saw that and they were kind enough to like me and put me back in for the last four years.”

Experience in public service is key to Roden’s campaign. Roden currently serves on Missouri’s Task Force One.

His involvement with the task force lead to him missing a veto session in the House while helping out with relief efforts related to Hurricane Florence in North Carolina. Roden also served in law enforcement prior to getting involved in politics.

Roden’s time in law enforcement and public service have made criminal justice reform one of the core issues of his platform.

“The criminal justice system has gotten pretty skewed in the last couple of years,” Roden said. “We’re seeing backlog cases from certain cities, and we’re seeing crime rise. So these are all issues that deal with the criminal justice reform, that have to be addressed — before it turns into the wild west.”

Roden sees his path to winning the SD 22 primary being similar to his path for winning his House of Representatives seat, grass-roots campaigning and connecting to his voters.

“Once we talk to people, they realize, I’m just another another person, just like everybody else in this community that wants to see our community thrive, see our kids have a better life,” Roden said. “It’s just a matter of getting out and talking to the people and listening to what they have to say. It’s no different than when I ran for House of Reps.”

Roden has raised the least amount of money during his campaign, backing up his grass-roots approach. The discrepancy in funding between him and his competition doesn’t seem to bother him much.

“That’s just politically puffing your chest, you know, if you loan yourself $100,000 or whatever, it doesn’t mean you got to spend it. I find it very difficult or disingenuous to sit here and tell people ‘I’ve raised $100,000-plus’ when in reality, you just went to the bank and got yourself a loan,” Roden said.

“I look at this race, I’m the underdog at this point in time. And, you know, it’s okay. They didn’t take me serious in 2014. I was the underdog in that race as well — and sometimes a long-shot wins.”

Roden’s Campaign Finances

First quarter contributions: $0

Loans: $0

Biggest contributor: N/A

No PAC supporting

Total money on hand: $3,475.92

Jeff Roorda

Jeff Roorda, business manager for the St. Louis Police Officers Association. Roorda announced in December 2021 that he was switching parties to become a Republican. (PROVIDED)

Roorda recently made his transition to Missouri’s Republican party official, but many had seen that transition coming for several years. Roorda changed sides of the aisle in January over concerns of Democrats defunding the police.

Roorda served as a police officer in Jefferson County for 17 years prior to being elected to the Missouri House of Representatives. He views himself as a politician that can “get things done,” something he believes his competition has failed to do.

“I looked at the the three candidates who had signaled their intention to run. And as a resident of the 22nd, I just didn’t think any of them were up to the task,” Roorda said. “One of my opponents voted against funding the $25 million for the port of Jefferson County … Another one, completely mishandled the congressional redistricting process and sort of made a mockery of Jefferson County. I mean, these are not serious lawmakers who can get things done.”

Like Roden, Roorda’s background in policing makes criminal justice reform a key issue of his platform. Roorda described his platform as  “populist” and “blue-collar.”

“There’s nobody that voters trust more to stand up against police de-funders and open border advocates than me,” Roorda said. “I put a lot of dangerous people behind bars. And you know, we’re just not letting our police officers do that anymore. I want to get back to a time where criminals are held accountable and people feel safe.”

Roorda believes he will appeal to a larger base of Republican voters than his competition. In his view, the other candidates are fighting over the same votes.

“The bulk of voters out there are like me, they believe that that workers should be treated fairly. They believe that police and fire and EMS should be supported, public education should be supported,” Roorda said. “And that we should roll our sleeves up and get work done. Rather than continue to watch a Senate spiraling down the drain.”

Instead of watching a Senate “spiraling down the drain,” Roorda wants to work to bring moderate Republicans and members of the Senate’s conservative caucus together.

“I’ll work with every senator. I think that’s one of the problems is, we have these deep fissures that people have sort of, you know, bunched up on one side of this imaginary line or another and I think we need to get away from that,” he said. “I am confident that I can help rebuild, you know, sort of a damaged caucus.”

Roorda’s Campaign Finances

First quarter contributions: $14,360.00

Loans: $130,001.00

Largest contributor: Social Bar & Grill LLC, $1,099.69

No PAC supporting

Total cash on hand: $139,724.05 

Dan Shaul

Rep. Dan Shaul on the House floor. Shaul gained significant attention as the House’s redistricting chair. (HOUSE COMMUNICATIONS/TIM BOMMEL)

Honesty is the best policy for Shaul, something he feels he’s become known for during his time in the House. Shaul feels his straight-forward style of policy-making is one his biggest strengths.

“It’s one of the things I’ve been known for in the Capitol. While I’ve been a member of the House, and also with the Grocers Association, I really don’t try to beat around the bush,” Shaul said. “If there’s something we need, or something I want to get past. I certainly go right at it. And don’t sugarcoat it … It’s just it’s so much easier to keep things simple. And to work with the relationships you build to be successful.”

Shaul sees himself as the truest conservative in the SD 22 race. He feels his leadership abilities and commitment to the conservative platform make him stand out.

“You know, everybody’s gonna say they’re pro-life, pro-gun, less government,” Shaul said. “But I think if you look at what I’ve actually done in my body of work, both before politics, and now. I think I’m the true conservative in the race, the one that is willing to take a position and hold it and fight for it.”

Shaul doesn’t see a need to change his campaign strategy to win the SD 22 primary. In his view it comes down to who works the hardest to win the nomination.

“I think our success in the primaries is gonna be based on what the success has been in the last four general elections … hard work, community based election campaigns,” Shaul said. “We’ve been in events, we show up early, we stay late for events. Talking to people to have a true feel of what the people in Jefferson County are thinking.”

“It comes down to hard work, not only by the team, but by the candidate — And I don’t think anybody’s gonna outwork me,” he added.

Shaul got first-hand experience with the Senate’s conservative caucus as the House’s redistricting chair during the congressional redistricting process. Shaul believes that experience has prepared him to ease tensions between the “Rowden” Republicans in the Senate and the conservative caucus.

“I think, if the map has taught us nothing, it’s that I’m willing to take a stand for positions and then work with all parties to get to where we need to be,” Shaul said.

“I think my tolerance in other people’s passions, I think it’s important. And I think that’ll make me successful in the Senate … I think sometimes it’s best just to listen to members of your own caucus, whether you agree with them or not, but also the other party. I think it’s very important to listen more than speak sometimes.”

Shaul’s Campaign Finances

First quarter contributions: $5,000.00

Loans: $0

Biggest contributor: MO Retailers PAC, $1,500.00

JeffCo Vision PAC cash on hand: $76,192

Total cash on hand: $132,033

The winner of the Republican primary will go on to face Benjamin Hagin, a Democrat and small business owner from Jefferson County who is unopposed in the Democratic primary. Hagin previously ran against Speaker of the House Rob Vescovo, R-Arnold, in 2018 and garnered 38% of the vote.

Editorial Note: This story is part of an on-going series covering each Senate primary race. There is no Democratic primary for SD 22.

 All campaign finance information provided by the Missouri Ethics Commission. 

Featured Image: The Missouri Senate Chamber. (PROVIDED)