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State Senate Tipsheet: February 2022

  

As the political climate continues to deteriorate for Democrats in the state as President Biden’s approval numbers slip, our tipsheet projections are still pretty grim for them in the state Senate. As everyone awaits the maps to become finalized right now the state Senate sits at:

Rowden Republicans: 16
Senate Democrats: 10
Eigel Republicans: 7
Senator Wieland: 1

This is prior to redistricting, of course. 

With the senators returning to the Senate for the second half of their terms in January, the Senate will look like: 

Rowden Republicans: 5
Senate Democrats: 7 (including one running for Congress)
Eigel Republicans: 5 (including two running for Congress)

Then, including incumbents who are running for re-election in currently safe districts with no serious opposition, the Senate looks like:

Rowden Republicans: 13 (Bernskoetter, Cierpiot, Brown, O’Laughlin, Crawford, Hough, White,  and Luetkemeyer)
Senate Democrats: 9 (May and Williams)
Eigel Republicans: 5
Open Seats: 7 (Six Republican seats and one Democratic seat)

Looking at the open seats, it seems six of them are Republican seats and one safe Democratic seat likely to be filled by Rep. Tracy McCreery. Of the six open Republican seats, two are Eigel Republicans and four Rowden Republicans. Before we see redistricting, I’d say right now you could argue the Eigel Republicans pick up at least one seat, but a lot of factors will go into the final tally. 

As of now, we’re expecting the state Senate to remain 24-10. With 24 Republicans, you need 13 to elect leadership and 12 to tie. Currently, Sen. Caleb Rowden only needs to re-elect his incumbents and keep everyone on board to win the Pro Tem’s chair. While Sen. Bill Eigel doesn’t have incumbents to re-elect, he does have two in Sens. Rick Brattin and Mike Moon running for Congress that ironically he would need to lose those races and return to the Senate. Then he would need to sweep the six open seats to be at 11. At that point he could have a chairmanship to offer or pick off one of Sen. Rowden’s to win or enter the dirty business of primary challenging incumbents. 

The likely outcome is that the Democrats hold their number at 10 and look forward to picking up the open Boone County only seat in 2024 and seats in Chesterfield, Lee’s Summit, and Springfield in 2026 open seat races. On the Republican side, where nearly all of the six open seat races have people on a side, and it’s clear Sen. Eigel likely wins more than the two open seats he is defending. I could see him even getting to four, but running the table is a tall order. 

2023 Prediction:

Rowden Republicans: 16
Senate Democrats: 10
Eigel Republicans: 8

We have ranked the open seats by competitiveness as they are currently drawn. 


#1 SD 2 Senator Onder is term-limited. TOSS-UP

This primary started as the No. 1 race in the state and is likely to stay that way until election day. There were two big developments in the race since our last tip sheet. First, Rep. Justin Hill not only dropped out of the race, not only dropped out of the legislature but dropped out of Missouri, moving to Florida at the start of session. Rep. Hill was never a top contender for the seat, but he would have drawn 10 percent percent of the vote. Ideologically, his dropping out probably helps Rep. Nick Schroer while geographically, it probably helps Rep. John Wiemann. Depending on redistricting, it’s probably pretty close to a wash. 

Secondly, the fight over the congressional maps broke into a proxy primary fight with Rep. Nick Schroer on the side of Sens. Bob Onder & Bill Eigel and Wiemann on the side of Sens. Dave Schatz and Caleb Rowden. This is probably how this was ultimately going to shake out anyway, but now it’s pretty common knowledge that this is how it’s gonna line up. 

One last note that was noticed by everyone in the rotunda is that Schroer didn’t fall into the trap many House members fall into of being a House member when they are trying to run for Senate. Several promising Senate campaigns have capsized from clinging to the House, but Schroer stuck in and refused to withdraw his map when told to, something a House member would have given in and done, and showed he ain’t gonna fall down that rabbit hole. 

On the money side, Wiemann maintained the money lead, and now that the lines are drawn it’s gonna be interesting for any representatives who fancy themselves as senators watching to see if Team Caleb matches Team Eigel in spending on the seat. 

House Speaker Pro Tem Rep. John Wiemann
Contributions this cycle: $309,637
Cash on hand: $144,941
JW Leadership Fund PAC
Cash on hand: $85,881
Total cash on hand for the race: $395,518

Rep. Nick Schroer
Contributions this cycle: $87,415
Cash on hand: $104,369
1776 PAC
Cash on hand: $230,240
Total cash on hand for the race: $334,609


#2 SD 22 Senator Paul Wieland is term-limited. TOSS-UP

There have been some pretty big developments in JeffCo since the last tipsheet — starting with the sitting speaker who had previously told his colleagues that he wasn’t running for Senate, then in the fall decided that he was leaning toward running for Senate, and now has been telling anyone who will listen that he isn’t running for Senate. Now, some of the more cynical might think that he is telling people he isn’t running for Senate because he is paranoid the appellate judges will draw his residence out of the 22nd, and after they finish their work he changes his mind again. If I had to guess, the angrier the politician is and the more the politician claims to not enjoy the legislature, the less likely they are to leave the Capitol willingly. For the time being, we will leave him on the tipsheet until filing closes. 

The second legislator that has bowed out is Rep. Becky Ruth who has taken a job in the administration. Her departure opens a lane for a labor-friendly candidate. Former Rep. Jeff Roorda has been the first to step into that void. Roorda has the name ID from his previous races and outspoken role as business manager for the St. Louis City Police Union. He has a history of being a good fundraiser, and if he can poll well, should get labor support. However, while obviously known as pro-police, he will have to cover being technically a Democrat until a few months ago. The question of whether he was too late to abandon the Democratic Party for JeffCo voters will be the central question of his candidacy. 

What will further complicate his candidacy is if Jefferson County Clerk Ken Waller chooses to run. Waller has great name ID and would be the first choice of most labor groups. If Roorda hadn’t jumped in, Waller seemed leading toward leaving his state representative run and launching. It will be a challenge for both of them to run, and they would likely ensure neither wins. 

Rep. Dan Shaul has been in this race from the start and has the fundraising lead. He seems to have some institutional support and has lined up some sizeable financial backers for the race that likely won’t materialize until after session. He is probably the most impacted by the entrance of Rep. Rob Vescovo into the race. It’s hard to see him winning if Vesvoco runs, but if he is burnt by Vescovo, he could be a factor in spoiling his chances to win. 

Rep. Mary Elizabeth Coleman seems to have some luck coming to her in this race. She has seen some rivals who could cause her problems backing away from the race, and if the race stays as it is now, she will be a top contender. The more the abortion issue is discussed, the better for her, and just as with Schroer, she was a winner from the map fight no matter what the final map looks like. Her changes will become clearer in the next six weeks when the maps are completed and filing is underway. 

Jefferson County is accustomed to highly competitive races, but this year, it will have highly competitive primary elections that determine who goes to Jefferson City. You have to assume the 22nd gets smaller and that likely means compacting to the north of the district. 

While JeffCo is all MAGA, there are a couple of Democrats who could make the race competitive. The head of Local 655, Dave Cook, would be good, as well as former Rep. Tim Meadows to mount creditable campaigns, but neither has confirmed a run. 

Rep. Mary Elizabeth Coleman
Contributions this cycle: $84,435
Cash on hand: $80,048
Conservative Solutions for Missouri PAC
Cash on hand: $15,315
Total cash on hand for the race: $95,363

Rep. Dan Shaul
Contributions this cycle: $56,014
Cash on hand: $53,227
JeffCo Vision PAC
Cash on hand: $69,100
Total cash on hand for the race: $122,327

Former State Representative Jeff Roorda
Contributions this cycle: $100,000
Cash on hand: $100,000
Total cash on hand for the race: $100,000

Rep. Rob Vescovo
Contributions this cycle: $44,250
Cash on hand: $148,037
Mighty Missouri PAC
Cash on hand: $475,325
Total cash on hand for the race: $623,362

Jefferson County Clerk Ken Waller
Contributions this cycle: $34,472
Cash on hand: $22,505
Building JeffCo Together PAC
Cash on hand: $9,232
Total cash on hand for the race: $31,737


#3 SD 26 Senator Dave Schatz is term-limited. LEAN BROWN

Freedom-loving Franklin County was set to have another primary maybe on par with 2012 when then-Rep. Brian Nieves was successful. However, this primary got a little less interesting with the decision of Rep. Aaron Griesheimer not to make the race. 

With Griesheimer’s exit, it leaves entrepreneur Ben Brown as the frontrunner amongst the announced candidates. Brown has risen to fame as the St. Louis County restaurant owner who sued St. Louis County over the occupancy restrictions put on his business. He has continued to keep his profile high, speaking out against mask orders and connecting well with some in the conservative base. While he is a Franklin County resident and leader of the Republican committee, the more of west St. Louis County that is in the 26th after redistricting, the better for him. He has secured Conservative Caucus support, and he has to hope that no St. Louis County candidates enter the race. He is probably the frontrunner regardless, but it would be disappointing to his efforts if St. Louis County were completely cut out of the 26th. 

Bob Jones is a Franklin County businessman who was recruited for the race when Griesheimer bowed out and had a big network of people to draw from for financial support. As of his first report, he started out with some big Washington names led by the Eckelkamps and is a close friend of Mr. Hoebrock. It’s unlikely that resources will be a problem for him. However, running for office is hard so it will be interesting to see how he takes to it. 

While Rep. Shane Roden is having to move into the district to run for the seat, he isn’t a stranger to Franklin County as he went to Washington High School. Roden benefits from  Griesheimer bowing out of the race as it gives him a shot at some labor money, but as with anyone moving into a district, he will have to make the case to donors that he has the support on the ground to win if they write him the check. 

After the three announced candidates, there is a lot of speculation that Rep. Nate Tate will enter the race. He would be someone who labor could support and battle it out with Bob Jones for some more traditional Franklin County Republican support. He is a talented politician who would make the race more interesting. 

After Tate, there are still others considering the race and waiting on the maps to be drawn such as current Franklin County commissioner and former Rep. Dave Hinson. Also, Rep. Bruce DeGroot, Wildwood Mayor Jim Bowlin, and several are promoting Franklin County Presiding Commissioner Tim Brinker who you have to assume would have made the race if he werent up for re-election this year. 

Ben Brown
Contributions this cycle: $98,664
Cash on hand: $81,912
BB Freedom Fund PAC
Cash on Hand: $0
Total cash on hand for the race: $81,912

Bob Jones
Contributions this cycle: $97,068
Cash on hand: $97,068
Total cash on hand for the race: $97,068

Rep. Shane Roden
Contributions this cycle: $600
Cash on hand: $4,237
Total cash on hand for the race: $4,237


#4 SD 10 Senator Jeannie Riddle is retiring. ?

This race is the one most likely to be affected by redistricting. As the district currently stands, it looks like a three-way race and with such a large sprawling district, money will matter perhaps more than any other in the state. 

The leader in money raised is Rep. Travis Fitzwater. He is likely to stay in the lead in money raised. Former Rep. Bryan Spencer has over $140,000 on hand, but $100,000 of that is his own, and many Senate candidates have put their own money into a race only to allow it to sit there and never spend it. Rep. Randy Pietzman had never been a prolific fundraiser and will likely have to rely on a benefactor such as the Conservative Caucus to step up and essentially fund his campaign. 

In the end, money and redistricting will tell the tale. Fitzwater will rely on his ability to raise money and his Calloway County base. Spencer will need to hope his $100,000 investment attracts more money and his base of Wentzville is drawn into the district. Pietzman will have to rely on Lincoln County, the largest in the district and a benefactor to carry him. 

You really can’t handicap this race until we see the maps. 

Rep. Randy Pietzman
Contributions this cycle: $0
Cash on hand: $2,084
Total cash on hand for the race: $2,084

Rep. Travis Fitzwater
Contributions this cycle: $24,150
Cash on hand: $66,654
Kingdom Leadership PAC
Cash on hand: $2,241
Total cash on hand for the race: $68,895

Former Rep. Bryan Spencer
Contributions this cycle: $128,448
Cash on hand: $143,497
Total cash on hand for the race: $143,497


#5 SD 12 Senator Dan Hegeman is retiring. ?

This race is going to come down to redistricting. As of now, there is only one candidate out campaigning and that is Rep. J. Eggleston. He has his conservative credentials brandished and has a good warchest on hand. However, there is $100,000 of his own money in, and there is a long precedent of candidates not spending their own money at the end of the day. 

While Eggleston is out on the stump there are several other candidates eyeing the race. Leading that pack is Rep. Allen Andrews. He has a tremendous amount of respect in north Missouri, and if he chose to make the race, he would be a top contender. 

As we mentioned earlier, this district is impossible to predict until redistricting is complete as SD 5 will grow. If it grows south, then Rep. Rusty Black could be drawn into the district, and if that is the case, then he would be a top contender out of the gate. If the district is completely reworked and Buchanan County were to be added, then Rep. Brenda Shields could make the race, and she would become the immediate favorite. 

This race has been represented by an Axiom client since I was in junior high, since before there was an Axiom, and after redistricting odds are whoever they sign will likely be there in January. 

Rep. J. Eggleston
Contributions this cycle: $125,910
Cash on hand: $176,504
Grand River PAC
Cash on hand: $943
Total cash on hand for the race: $177,447


#6 SD 24 Senator Jill Schupp is retiring. 

Rep. Tracy McCreery has done everything possible to make this an easy hold for Senate Democrats. She has secured the endorsement of Sen. Jill Schupp, former Sen. Joan Bray is her treasurer, the top unions in politics have already committed to her race, and she has nearly a half-million dollars in the bank. The only thing that could foul up something actually going easy for Missouri Democrats here is the unlikely event that redistricting goes very unexpectedly (highly unlikely), or she has a primary that drains her resources and invites a Republican with no record and a fat bank account to jump in (well … these are Missouri Democrats).

Once filing closes, this race likely drops down the list, but until a map is procured and the filing closes where the race becomes incompetence-proof, we’re keeping it at  No. 6.

Rep. Tracy McCreery
Contributions this cycle: $252,243
Cash on hand: $409,367
Serve Missouri PAC
Cash on hand: $41,896
Total cash on hand for the race: $451,263


#7 SD 8 Senator Mike Cierpiot is seeking re-election. 

The 8th is in southwest Jackson County anchored by Lee’s Summit where a Cierpiot has been on the ballot for most of the last two decades — and winning, mind you. Sen. Mike Cierpiot won with 54 percent four years ago against a good candidate in a district that is trending Democratic. 

However, four years ago, he raised a quarter of a million in his candidate committee and over twice that in his PAC, and as chairman of the powerful Commerce, Consumer Protection, Energy and the Environment Committee, he will outpace those numbers next year. 

However, as the district now stands, he has up-and-coming Democratic star Rep. Keri Ingle in his district. She flipped a House seat after Gary Cross was term-limited and will likely be the favorite even in a still slightly red district in 2026 when she would be term-limited herself. 

Without a redistricting surprise, it just makes too much sense for her not to wait for an open seat and watch the district continue to trend toward her. 

Cierpiot is very well-respected both in the Senate and back home. The only two things that could give him a stressful re-election are a redistricting map that runs into Kansas City proper, or the twin bad luck of a primary candidate mixed with a decent general election challenger. But even all of those things at once won’t keep him from returning to the Capitol in January. 

Senator Mike Cierpiot
Contributions this cycle: $209,560
Cash on hand: $86,343
Jackson County Leadership PAC
Cash on hand: $57,277
Total cash on hand for the race: $143,620


#8 SD 30 Senator Lincoln Hough is seeking re-election. 

While Sen. Mike Cierpiot’s district could get worse by redistricting, it’s almost impossible for Sen. Lincoln Hough’s district to be made anything but better by redistricting. At one point, you could have seen a scenario by which a Democrat could have made a strong re-election challenge, but with Biden struggling and Hough’s performance in the Senate, there is little chance of a serious general election challenge. Further, a primary challenger would stand very little chance of success and might ultimately end up being a politically positive development for Hough. 

Sen. Lincoln Hough
Contributions this cycle: $313,388
Cash on hand: $307,833
Lincoln PAC
Cash on hand: $307,184
Total cash on hand for the race: $615,020


#9 SD 16 Senator Justin Brown is seeking re-election. 

The central Missouri geography of the 16th makes it more susceptible to redistricting changes than others, but there is little doubt there will be a Rolla-based district, and for a 13th year, it will be represented by a member of the Brown family. 

Sen. Justin Brown has risen to chair the public safety and transportation committees where he has built a statewide fundraising base to capitalize on his farming background and candidly a name known throughout central Missouri regardless of where redistricting takes him. 

Currently, there is an announced candidate in Scott Reidel from Laclede County. He is a veteran, and making his first run for office. State senator is a big step for a first-time candidate. I’m hearing there could be a case that some of his very passionate supporters at the lake may be making some financial commitments that are unlikely to materialize. His will be an interesting report to read in April. 

SD 16 Sen. Justin Brown
Contributions this cycle: $34,094
Cash on hand: $79,049
JB PAC
Cash on hand: $105,003
Total cash on hand for the race: $184,052

Scott Reidel
Contributions this cycle: $2,322
Cash on hand: $879
Total cash on hand for the race: $879


#10 SD 34 Senator Tony Luetkemeyer is seeking re-election. 

The senator from Platte is the least likely on this list to face a significant challenge, but he did first win the seat with only 52 percent in 2018. Redistricting could see him losing Buchanan County and going down into Kansas City or into Clay County. A radical redistricting map is about the only way that he is in trouble. He has a record of legislative accomplishment and a significant fundraising base that has put together nearly $900,000. He is in very good shape for re-election. 

However, he does have one constituent who has been universally impressive in her first year in the House: Rep. Ashley Aune. She is obviously going to be a star for the Democrats, but it would seem foolish to waste that star on challenging an incumbent state senator in an area that is becoming more friendly to Democrats. 

Look for Luetkemeyer to return without much of a challenge. 

Sen. Tony Luetkemeyer
Contributions this cycle: $626,898
Cash on hand: $610,999
Tony PAC
Cash on hand: $285,031
Total cash on hand for the race: $896,030


Safe Republican seats

SD 6 Sen. Mike Bernskoetter
Contributions this cycle: $109,378
Cash on hand: $179,646
MO Six PAC
Cash on hand: $19,880
Total cash on hand for the race: $199,526

SD 18 Sen. Cindy O’Laughlin
Contributions this cycle: $44,001
Cash on hand: $99,567
North Missouri Leadership PAC
Cash on hand: N/A

SD 28 Sen. Sandy Crawford
Contributions this cycle: $88,508
Cash on hand: $257,190

SD 32 Sen. Bill White
Contributions this cycle: $72,992
Cash on hand: $114,134
Southwest Missouri Patriot PAC
Cash on hand: $58,193
Total cash on hand for the race: $172,327


Safe Democrat seats

SD 4 Sen. Karla May
Contributions this cycle: $76,910
Cash on hand: $21,170
Voices of the People PAC
Cash on hand: $35,298
Total cash on hand for the race: $56,468

SD 14 Sen. Brian Williams
Contributions this cycle: $308,637
Cash on hand: $193,150
B PAC
Cash on hand: $102,425
Total cash on hand for the race: $295,575