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State Senate Tipsheet: July 2021

First, all of these projections are subject to change radically after redistricting. However, we are going to layout our views based on what the districts are now. 

With practically the entire Democratic Caucus in their mid-term, it’s not likely that the Democrats lose any seats, but at the same time, it’s hard to see where they pick up any. The sheer partisan breakdown starts off with 10 returning Republicans and seven returning Democrats. 

However, there are another 10 seats the Democrats have literally no chance to even be competitive in — taking the totals to 20 Republicans and nine Democrats. Then there is SD 22, where it might take a miracle for the Democrats to compete, taking it to a 21 to eight Republican majority. Then you have three more likely Republican seats with incumbents up for re-election in SD 8, SD 30, and SD 34, and likely Democratic retention in SD 24. And without redistricting changing the dynamic, you have a projected 24-10 Republican supermajority returning to the Capitol. 

That leaves the real Senate drama: the internal fight within the Republican Caucus. With Sen. Cindy O’Laughlin seemingly out of the Conservative Caucus, you have seven out of the 24 that could unite behind one of their own for leadership. If Sen. Bill Eigel is the one they put up, he could pull away a couple of others. Of those seven, only Sen. Bob Onder is term-limited. On the other side, the only three races where the Republicans could lose a seat, all three are not in their caucus, but all three are also highly unlikely to lose their seats. However, Sen. Caleb Rowden could be in Congress come time to vote which would not only take away one of their 17 but their candidate for Pro Tem. 

In order for the Conservative Caucus to break through to the 13 members, they would need in order to elect a leadership slate, they need one of their members to replace Sen. Bob Onder to bring them back to seven, and then sweep the primaries in SD 10, SD 12, SD 22, and SD 26 — taking them to 11. Even then, they would have to either go after a couple of the incumbents in long shot primaries or cut a deal to bring over a member by offering them a plum chairmanship or Sen. Bill Eigel would have to draw on one of his personal friendships to forge a tie. 

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

#1 SD 2 Senator Onder is term limited. 

This primary will be the most expensive and probably nastiest primary in the state. Sen. Bob Onder has earned a reputation as a conservative firebrand, and in many ways, the candidates running to replace him have tried to emulate his example. His endorsement will be one that perhaps carries the most of any term-limited senator this cycle. 

Rep. John Wiemann
The Speaker Pro Tem of the House is a very good fundraiser with solid roots in the district and has had his eye on the seat since he was first elected to the House. He has a reputation as a top legislator with a serious resume and clearly the confidence of his colleagues as they overwhelmingly elected him to leadership. He will have a lot of institutional support both in the district and the Jefferson City donor community. 

Rep. John Wiemann
Contributions this cycle: $3,500
Cash on hand: $102,399.58
JW Leadership Fund PAC
Cash on hand: $49,229.19

Rep. Nick Schroer
Rep. Schroer is a political talent that has the rare skill of being a leading figure on several controversial social issues and while at the same time earning a reputation in the Capitol as a serious legislator. He has increased his profile among conservative activists with his work in radio that he has done for years. The $200,000 contribution got his PAC started off right and ensures that he will be competitive in the race until the end with a shot at being the most likely candidate to reach $1 million. 

There will be the issue of whether he lives in the district. It’s very likely that with redistricting, it will enable anyone to run regardless of their address, and it might even be drawn to include his current home. However, if not, it’s likely his opponents attack him on it. However, west St. Charles County is a place that, per capita, has seen more people move there in the last 20 years than probably anywhere in the state so you have to wonder what it would matter to someone who more recently moved there themselves. 

Rep. Nick Schroer
Contributions this cycle: $10,431.00
Cash on hand: $49,438.98
1776 PAC
Cash on hand: $200,000.00

Rep. Justin Hill
Rep. Hill has been seeking attention to attempt to make this run since his election to the House. He has heavily courted Sen. Onder’s support and attempted to get in the news coverage of any issue that might get him some attention. The entry into the race of Rep. Schroer is likely unhelpful to his efforts, but he has to hope that he can also take some of the more institutional support from Wiemann without taking too much of the activist support from Hill. He will have to improve his fundraising to win this race, but he does have the political instincts to appeal to conservative activists. 

Rep. Justin Hill
Contributions this cycle: $100
Cash on hand: $6,035.95

#2 SD 22 Senator Paul Wieland is term limited. 

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 credible campaigns, but neither has confirmed a run. 

Rep. Mary Elizabeth Coleman
Rep. Coleman has steeled a reputation as a pro-life champion, and in prior races, she has put together a reputation as a solid fundraiser. She will be the best in the race giving a speech and has done some things to build support in the district — such as her proposal to name a portion of I-55 the President Donald Trump Highway. She has put together a solid team and was the first out of the gate into the race. It’s worth noting that while most donors hate giving early in multi-candidate primaries in districts that aren’t even drawn yet, she is the top fundraiser. 

Rep. Mary Elizabeth Coleman
Contributions this cycle: $20,150.00
Cash on hand: $54,820.37
Conservative Solutions for Missouri PAC
Cash on hand: $15,333.79

Rep. Becky Ruth
Rep. Ruth has the most noted legislative record of anyone in the field and will have considerable support from those in the construction and labor industries. She has a solid network in the district and will have a lot of the same issue set that Sen. Wieland used to help flip Jefferson County red. It is possible that she would have to move north if the district is moved north — which at this point seems likely. 

Rep. Becky Ruth
Contributions this cycle: $3,950.00
Cash on hand: $41,067.40
Show Me JeffCo PAC
Cash on hand: $7,281.55

Rep. Dan Shaul
Rep. Shaul is in the central part of the district that more closely identifies with its communities and its leaders more than the more suburban Arnold area and has been planning a Senate run for a long time. He has a conservative voting record and has been reaching out to big donors trying to make his pitch for funding. His campaign will be interesting to watch the next six months before session to see if he can bank some money that might attract more money after session. 

Rep. Dan Shaul
Contributions this cycle: $7,900.00
Cash on hand: $17,675.75
JeffCo Vision PAC
Cash on hand: $14,229.56

Rep. Rob Vescovo
It seems likely that the sitting House speaker is intent on keeping a big chunk of the money in his PAC instead of giving it to the caucus which puts him as a top candidate for another office. It’s been speculated he would like to run for Congress, but as of writing this, that seat isn’t open. He has floated his name for state auditor, but the race that most likely keeps him on the gubment dole is a Senate run — so odds are he runs for Senate. 

While he will have the biggest war chest, he will have to spend a lot of that framing some of the obstacles he has such as blocking legislation to take murder cases away from St. Louis Circuit Attorney Kim Gardner. While it’s possible he runs for higher office, our prediction is that he flinches on those more challenging races and settles on a Senate run in the 22nd. 

Rep. Rob Vescovo
Contributions this cycle: $0
Cash on hand: $157,103.79
Mighty Missouri PAC
Cash on hand: $381,283.84

#3 SD 26 Senator Dave Schatz is term limited. 

Freedom-loving Franklin County will have another primary maybe on par with 2012 when then Rep. Brian Nieves was successful. As of now, the two leading candidates are Rep. Aaron Griesheimer, a member of one of the most well-known families in the county, and Ben Brown, a restaurant owner who has come to regional notoriety opposing St. Louis County mask and shutdown orders. 

Outside of the two announced candidates, there are several others eyeing the race — most notably 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. Obviously redistricting will play a large role in this race. Most of the focus will be on the current St. Louis County portion of the district. Franklin County’s population has exploded as has the St. Louis County portion of the district. You assume Franklin County will remain in one district so there will be less non-Franklin County population; whether that means less St. Louis County or the district picks up Warren County or Gasconade County remains to be seen. 

Rep. Aaron Griesheimer
He will have a lot of traditional Franklin County Republican support, and having earned a reputation as a serious legislator, he will have a good deal of institutional support from Jefferson City sources. He will start off the favorite with a few of the breaks more likely to go his way. You start assuming that the more Franklin County the district is, the better for him. You also have to assume if the district was to turn west or north and not include St. Louis County, that is good for him. However, the biggest variable is something he can influence and that is to see the fewer Franklin County candidates the better. If he can be the only elected official in a Franklin County district that is more Franklin County than it is now, then he is the favorite. 

Rep. Aaron Griesheimer
Contributions this cycle: $3,525.00
Cash on hand: $50,757.55
Four Rivers PAC
Cash on hand: N/A

Ben Brown
Ben 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 has connected well with some in the conservative base. While he is a Franklin County resident, the more of west St. Louis County that is in the 26th after redistricting the better for him. You look to him to be attempting to consolidate Conservative Caucus support, and he has to hope that no St. Louis County candidates enter the race. He is a good candidate and seems to be running regardless, but it would be disappointing to his efforts if St. Louis County were completely cut out of the 26th. 

Ben Brown
Contributions this cycle: $17,740.00
Cash on hand: $37,681.32

#4 SD 10 Senator Jeannie Riddle is retiring. 

SD 10 is the district that historically has changed as much as any in the state. In 2008, when now Lt. Gov. Mike Kehoe was elected, Callaway County was in the Cole County district. The redistricting pen changed that and created a seat where Callaway County was in the district and then-Rep. Jeannie Riddle won going away. 

If the district stays the same, then look for a three-way race between Reps. Travis Fitzwater, Randy Pietzman, and Bryan Spencer. The current district has Lincoln County with 34 percent of the vote where Pietzman would try to build a base. Spencer, who has put $100,000 of his own money into the race, is from Warren County which has 20 percent of the vote while Fitzwater is from Callaway County with 22 percent of the vote. However, Fitzwater is likely to have the fundraising advantage in the race which would put him in the best position to reach out to the rest of the district while Pietzman is likely going to have to hope that a major donor funds his PAC like now-Sens. Rick Brattin and Mike Moon last cycle. 

This race really won’t get started until you know who is in it because it could leave either Pietzman or Fitzwater outside of it. 

Rep. Randy Pietzman
Contributions this cycle: $0
Cash on hand: $3,513.57

Rep. Travis Fitzwater
Contributions this cycle: $4,000.00
Cash on hand: $50,747.16

Rep. Bryan Spencer
Contributions this cycle: $520.00
Cash on hand: $137,462.08

#5 SD 12 Senator Dan Hegeman is retiring. 

This race, perhaps more than any other, is dependent on redistricting. There are two pretty certain candidates in the current district in Reps. Allen Andrews and J. Eggleston. Then there are several candidates on the edge of the district such as Reps. Rusty Black and Brenda Shields. 

As it stands now, the 12th will likely have to add some population although the Clay County portion of the district has grown. Whether that is south or into Buchanan County or east into the 18th will be a question for the judges. 

Rep. Eggleston is from DeKalb County and will stake out some ground on the right while Rep. Andrews from the northern part of the district in Worth County will stake out some centrist and social conservative ground. 

This race more than any other is a bit stalled until the districts are drawn. 

Rep. Allen Andrews
Contributions this cycle: $0.42
Cash on hand: $19,057.33

Rep. J. Eggleston
Contributions this cycle: $52.20
Cash on hand: $53,586.92
Grand River PAC
Cash on hand: N/A

#6 SD 24 Senator Jill Schupp is retiring. 

Ten years ago, the 24th was drawn to be slightly more Democratic, but electoral trends have made it more Democratic than the redistricting pen could have. While a slightly more Republican-drawn district was won by former Sen. John Lamping in 2010, there are a couple of caveats — one being that it was the 2010 wave year for Republicans, and two, John Lamping was elected as a moderate, pro-labor Republican. His strength of being a pro-life Catholic was helpful, but him being a very strong candidate and his moderate positions carried the day. 

This district was won by Sen. Jill Schupp in a close election against now Secretary of State Jay Ashcroft 50 percent to 47 percent in 2014 and was re-elected handily in 2018. 

Rep. Tracy McCreery
Rep. Tracy McCreery is the clear front-runner in the race complete with the support of the incumbent and most local leaders. The Republicans’ options in this district are slim, but when redistricting is complete House Majority Leader (and by then, Speaker) Dean Plocher could be in the district, and he has considered a Senate run in the past. However, this district might be more suitable for a person without a record in the mold of John Lamping, like a Jack Spooner or one of the many successful businessmen in the district. 

However, the only two ways to seriously see a slow down on Rep. McCreery’s path to the Senate is redistricting radically changing the map (which seems unlikely) or keep in mind these are Missouri Democrats and you could see some radical primary challengers deplete her resources and make the race more appealing to a Republican with resources. 

Either scenario seems like a long shot and the 24th is on track to being the most boring open-seat race in 2022. 

Rep. Tracy McCreery
Contributions this cycle: $41,730.00
Cash on hand: $220,594.84

Likely Republican seats

While the Senate begins the cycle with a 24-10 Republican advantage, and with a Democrat in the White House, without some redistricting surprises, there probably won’t be much of a change. 

However, if the Democrats are going to pick up any ground, it’s probably going to be in SD 8, SD 30, or SD 34. The problem is that each of these seats have incumbents running for re-election and each are excellent campaigners who won the tough districts for a reason. Let’s take a look at them. 

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. 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 red seat after Gary Cross was term-limited and will likely be the favorite even in a 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. 

Sen. Cierpiot is very well-respected both in the Senate and back home. Look for him to return to the Senate, possibly in a leadership position. 

Sen. Mike Cierpiot
Contributions this cycle: $6,825.00
Cash on hand: $29,560.37
Jackson County Leadership PAC
Cash on hand: $2,277.70

SD 30 Senator Lincoln Hough is seeking re-election. 

The senator from Springfield has had perhaps the best first term of any state senator of the term limits era, and combined with a Democrat in the White House and his likely elevation after the election to being the Senate Appropriations chairman, he is about as safe as any senator who won with 53 percent of the vote four years ago can be. 

However, one of his current constituents is House Minority Leader Crystal Quade who owns a very high profile in Springfield herself, and one of four or five Democrats in all of Missouri who could mount a credible swing seat campaign. She terms out of the House in 2024, and many people are encouraging her to mount a statewide campaign then, but she has been mentioned as a possible Senate candidate. While redistricting could help a Democratic challenger’s chances in the 8th or the 34th, pretty much any change in the 30th would add more Republicans and make it an even more uphill climb. 

In the end, it probably makes too much sense for her not to wait a term and watch the city of Springfield continue to trend her way. 

Either way, it seems very likely that Sen. Hough returns to Jefferson City as Appropriations chairman in 2023.

Sen. Lincoln Hough
Contributions this cycle: $4,000.00
Cash on hand: $192,970.12
Lincoln PAC
Cash on hand: $65,627.66

SD 34 Senator Tony Luetkemeyer is seeking re-election. 

The senator from Platte is the least likely of the three 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. 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 Sen. Luetkemeyer to return without much of a challenge. 

Sen. Tony Luetkemeyer
Contributions this cycle: $32,325.00
Cash on hand: $477,436.85
Tony PAC
Cash on hand: $102,060.99

Safe Republican seats

SD 6 Sen. Mike Bernskoetter
Contributions this cycle: $0
Cash on hand: $148,588.30

SD 16 Sen. Justin Brown
Contributions this cycle: $4,938.13
Cash on hand: $55,971.33
Cash on hand: $4,394.35

SD 18 Sen. Cindy O’Laughlin
Contributions this cycle: $3,609.00
Cash on hand: $80,229.73
North Missouri Leadership PAC
Cash on hand: $274.10

SD 20 Sen. Eric Burlison
Contributions this cycle: $2,397.57
Cash on hand: $430,052.82

SD 28 Sen. Sandy Crawford
Contributions this cycle: $2,000
Cash on hand: $239,415.44

SD 32 Sen. Bill White
Contributions this cycle: $4,725.00
Cash on hand: $42,931.50
Southwest Missouri Patriot PAC
Cash on hand: $6,861.00

Safe Democrat seats

SD 4 Sen. Karla May
Contributions this cycle: N/A
Cash on hand: N/A

SD 14 Sen. Brian Williams
Contributions this cycle: $100.00
Cash on hand: $161,245.80
Cash on hand: $39,394.60