With the third quarter numbers in, and it looks like Rep. Becky Ruth is out, we take a look at the top state Senate races around the state, and maybe some of next cycle’s races. There are really no seats we are projecting to flip this cycle prior to redistricting. There is some potential for competitive races in SD 8, SD 30, and SD 24, but it seems more likely that the two seats currently held by Republicans will see top potential Democratic challengers wait until the seats are open, and in the Democratic-held open seat of SD 24, Rep. Tracy McCreery is likely unbeatable as she is a top candidate, and the district has shifted more and more Democratic over the last decade.
Now, these things change if Senate Republicans begin to cannibalize themselves. As it stands now, Senate Democrats can really only pick up seats if Senate Republicans drain their resources in primaries and the climate shifts, and really after seeing the results in Virginia and the price of gas and steaks skyrocket you’d figure as of now republican candidates win regardless.
The Senate begins with 10 returning Republicans and seven returning Democrats. Of the seats with returning senators, SD 4 with Sen. Karla May will return and SD 14 with Sen. Brian Williams will stay safely Democratic. However, there are many people urging Williams to seek higher office. Even if he does, the seat will stay in Democrats’ hands. It will take something very unpredictable for SD 24 not to stay in Democratic hands with McCreery moving up, but it’s hard to be sure that something can’t go wrong when discussing Missouri Democrats. That leaves all 10 Democratic seats likely to return to the Capitol, so status quo.
For Senate Republicans, there are always two sets of math that apply. They start the cycle with 10 returning senators and eight senators up for re-election. As we mentioned earlier, SD 8 and SD 30 are seats becoming more and more competitive as they are currently constituted, but with President Biden in the White House, they will stay in Republicans’ hands so long as Republican infighting can be curtailed — leaving them with a majority of 18.
After that, there are six seats currently held by Republicans which will be certain to remain in Republicans’ hands — bringing them back to the 24 senators they currently have.
Now for the other set of math. There are currently 14 senators who are more or less with the majority of the majority or the Caleb Caucus. Sen. Paul Wieland who is kinda his own man right now and seven who are in their own caucus of the minority of the majority, and Sens. Cindy O’Loughlin and Holly Rehder could be seen as in either. The two sides are in just open warfare, and it’s really getting silly to refer to them as one caucus.
There are 10 returning Republican senators. Now you can never really know where senators will ultimately be in a leadership race, we will make some assumptions, but they are just assumptions:
- Four of them in what you might refer to as the Caleb Caucus in Sens. Elaine Gannon, Jason Bean, Karla Eslinger, and, of course, Rowden.
- The three of them you might refer to as being in the Eigel Caucus are Sens. Andrew Koenig, Denny Hoskins, and, of course, Eigel. Now two more would be in the Eigel Caucus but are running for Congress: Sens. Rick Brattin and Mike Moon. If they were to be unsuccessful then they would return making five.
- Seems hard to say but Rehder might be in the Lean Rowden column, but it might be hard to be certain.
This starts off the cycle with Rowden with four, Eigel with between 3-5 depending on congressional races, and Rehder.
Of the incumbents running for re-election, none of them are from the Eigel Caucus, while there are seven from the Caleb Caucus up for re-election including Sens. Lincoln Hough, Mike Bernskoetter, Justin Brown, Mike Cierpiot, Tony Luetkemeyer, Sandy Crawford, and Bill White. All of whom are very likely to be re-elected, although there are some rumblings of primary challenges. Then there is also O’Loughlin who has previously been aligned with the Eigel Caucus, but seems less so today — so put her with Rehder.
If you assume neither senator goes to Congress and no incumbent is defeated then you would see the Eigel Caucus at five and the Caleb Caucus at 11 with O’Loughlin and Rehder.
That leaves six open seats where it seems there will be open competitions for their votes.
In SD 10 you assume that Rep. Randy Pietzman would be in the Eigel Caucus where Rep. Travis Fitzwater would join the Caleb Caucus.
In SD 26 you assume that Rep. Aaron Greisheimer would be in the Caleb Caucus where Ben Brown would be in the Eigel Caucus.
In SD 12 you assume that the field isn’t set until the boundaries are, and until Axiom signs someone, it’s hard to see who will be on whose side there.
In SD 2 in Eigel’s home county, you would think he would have the best chance for either picking the winner or securing his vote.
In SD 22 the question will be can House Speaker Rob Vescovo convince Eigel that either he is on his side or that it’s not worth competing with his war chest.
In SD 20 Rep. Curtis Trent would be someone that both caucuses could compete over, where his primary opponent Brian Gelner is close to Burlison but seems to fit the Caleb Caucus background.
The final analysis is that after the elections, there is little doubt that the Republicans will maintain a supermajority. The only real question is what will the Republican Caucus look like. I would assume that Eigel picks up seats in the primaries. So then if you assume no incumbents lose and no senators leave for Congress, then as of now Rowden has the advantage on the leadership — but with a reduced majority. If Eigel runs the table and picks up 4-5 seats, then things will get very interesting.
#1 SD 2 Sen. Onder is term-limited in 2022.
PRIMARY: TOO SOON TO CALL – GENERAL: SAFE REPUBLICAN
This will be the most brutal and expensive primary in the state — and will have a little of everything from personal grudges to attacks — with everything in play from geography to endorsements to strategy. It will be fun to watch and whoever is the next senator from the 2nd will have earned the title.
Speaker Pro Tem John Wiemann
Speaker Pro Tem John Wiemann has a solid base in the St. Charles business community and will probably raise the most money from the most donors this cycle. His O’Fallon base has grown in line with the rest of the county. Lastly, he will be one of the hardest to attack in the race. It will be interesting to see how he throws his punches once the attacks start flying.
On his campaign report is a list of folks from St. Charles County, including Steve Ehlmann, and a host of donors from the construction industry. On the expenditures side, he has retained Victory Enterprises & Capitol City Research. On the PAC side, groups from the Realtors to the Soybean Association to long-term care donated, and he was able to bank all of that money this quarter.
Contributions this period: $52,341
Contributions this cycle: $64,348
Cash on hand: $144,780
JW Leadership Fund PAC
Contributions this period: $33,300
Contributions this cycle: $64,496
Cash on hand: $81,029
Total cash on hand for the campaign: $225,809
Rep. Nick Schroer
Rep. Nick Schroer brings an aggressive style to this race where he has perhaps the most compelling appeal to the Republican activists. And western St. Charles County might have the most Republican activists per capita of anywhere in the state. He can also actually pass legislation that will appeal to groups in Jefferson City. He has been doing work on Republican radio stations practically since he was elected seven years ago. How the district is drawn will perhaps matter more to him than anyone since he has had to deal with a residency issue previously, but it’s an open question as to how much that matters in the suburbs.
His report reflects his diverse political skills with several interest groups combined with a very large number of donors with James Harris running his campaign. On the PAC side, he is heavy with St. Charles businesses kicking in $5,000 and, of course, the $200,000 check from June leaves them flush with cash.
Contributions this period: $43,580
Contributions this cycle: $54,011
Cash on hand: $83,115
Contributions this period: $21,200
Contributions this cycle: $221,200
Cash on hand: $221,000
Total cash on hand for the campaign: $304,315
Rep. Justin Hill
Rep. Justin Hill has never been a big fundraiser, and since the end of session, he hasn’t decided to start. He has been attempting to use his Facebook page to generate buzz, but other than that, there hasn’t been a lot of on-the-ground campaigning. Of the three candidates, it seems his old Lake St. Louis address could be the most likely to be drawn north, but seeing as he can move where he needs to, redistricting probably wouldn’t mean he couldn’t run.
He has been doing a lot of traveling and likely building up a list of potential donors, and he did get a picture with former President Trump and his Florida resort that could be useful.
Maybe the best thing he has going for him is that some folks seem to think that his being at the Capitol on Jan. 6 hurts his political viability in St. Charles County.
Contributions this period: $100,850
Contributions this cycle: $111,370
Cash on hand: $103,871
Total cash on hand for the campaign: $103,871
#2 SD 22 Sen. Wieland is term-limited in 2022.
PRIMARY: TOO SOON TO CALL – GENERAL: SAFE REPUBLICAN
This race has been changing since the last election. The biggest news so far is that Rep. Becky Ruth seems to be leaving elective office for a position in the administration. Conventional wisdom seems to be that her leaving the race favors Rep. Mary Elizabeth Coleman as she would be the only woman in what could be a four-person field. The lingering question is does Ruth leaving the race mean that Jefferson County Clerk Ken Waller leaves the state representative race and run for state Senate? Like Ruth, Waller lives right on the current SD 22 line. Speaking of potential candidates who live right on the current line, local attorney Derrick Good lives right on the line as well.
From the start, it seemed that Coleman and Rep. Dan Shaul were committed to the race. Coleman is a talented campaigner, but both are going to have the same challenge of how to raise enough money to gain a significant advantage over the other.
Then there is House Speaker Rob Vescovo. He seemed very interested in a run for Congress, but neither the 2nd nor the 8th have opened up. He floated a run for state auditor, but you wonder could be bonded? Then had his representatives contact the other candidates in the race and say he was going to run for Senate, which didn’t make Shaul look all that strong as he has told people that the speaker wasn’t running for Senate. Now it’s possible that Shaul uses his position as chairman of the redistricting committee to draw a district that Vescovo could run in to see him leave the state Senate race, but that would be quite an impressive political feat. Regardless, his over half a million dollars makes him the frontrunner when he files.
The bottom line: The #SteinOfKnoweldge has always predicted that Speaker Rob Vescovo tries to run for everything else, then ultimately runs for state Senate, and does anyone really wanna bet against the stein? That means Vescovo will try and see if Sen. Bill Eigel can convince him that he will be for him, allowing Eigel to spend resources in other places when everyone knows he will be for Sen. Caleb Rowden in the end. Eigel is no fool, so assuming he doesn’t pick up the habit of getting taken for one, he will then have to choose between Reps. Mary Elizabeth Coleman and Dan Shaul — the winner of that will be the main contender. Coleman has the talent to potentially help lead his caucus after he runs for statewide office, but he will have to commit significant resources to either candidate to put them in contention against the speaker. The last question is: Does Ken Waller jump in? That probably makes Coleman an even more advantageous choice. Filing day will be interesting to see how many folks from JeffCo pay a visit to Secretary Jay Ashcroft.
Rep. Mary Elizabeth Coleman
Contributions this period: $23,825
Contributions this cycle: $65,630
Cash on hand: $69,112
Conservative Solutions for Missouri PAC
Contributions this period: $0
Contributions this cycle: $15,750
Cash on hand: $15,324
Rep. Dan Shaul
Contributions this period: $30,742
Contributions this cycle: $38,772
Cash on hand: $40,398
JeffCo Vision PAC
Contributions this period: $19,850
Contributions this cycle: $26,450
Cash on hand: $33,542
Speaker Rob Vescovo
Contributions this period: $27,650
Contributions this cycle: $28,650
Cash on hand: $157,613
Mighty Missouri PAC
Contributions this period: $32,600
Contributions this cycle: $443,013
Cash on hand: $410,375
#3 SD 26 Sen. Schatz is term-limited in 2022.
PRIMARY: TOO SOON TO CALL – GENERAL: SAFE REPUBLICAN
This will be a very classic primary of different styles, backgrounds, and allies with Rep. Aaron Griesheimer having the traditional Republicans behind him led by Sen. Caleb Rowden and the Sen. Bill Eigel faction backing Ben Brown, a restaurateur and a regional leader of the anti-mask mandate movement.
Griesheimer comes to the race with a historical name in the county and support from most of the traditional families in Franklin County while Brown has an advantage in new grassroots supporters. He made an error in signing a letter chastising incumbent Sen. Dave Schatz, and while he has tried to walk it back, it seems like an unforced error. It probably plays well with some, but most people in Franklin County seem pretty proud to have one of their own in one of the top positions in state government.
The bottom line: The conventional wisdom feels like as the district is currently drawn, it’s over 2/3rds Franklin County and 1/3rd St. Louis County. If that is the case, and Brown does well in St. Louis County, then he would only need to hold his own in Franklin to win. However, if the 26th goes west into Gasconade, Warren, etc. that would most likely favor Griesheimer.
Rep. Aaron Griesheimer
Contributions this period: $32,771
Contributions this cycle: $39,296
Cash on hand: $73,938
Four Rivers PAC
Contributions this period: N/A
Contributions this cycle: N/A
Cash on hand: N/A
Contributions this period: $22,139
Contributions this cycle: $65,564
Cash on hand: $54,336
#4 SD 10 Sen. Riddle is term-limited in 2022.
PRIMARY: TOO SOON TO CALL – GENERAL: SAFE REPUBLICAN
This race will be all about redistricting. As it stands now, the likely candidates are Reps. Travis Fitzwater and Randy Pietzman as well as former Rep. Bryan Spencer. In the past, this district has been split in several different directions and could be again. The geographic split as of now would see Fitzwater’s Callaway County with around 5,700 primary voters, Pietzman’s rapidly growing Lincoln County with around 9,500 primary votes, and Warren County where Spencer would have some name ID with around 6,000 primary votes.
It seems pretty clear that Fitzwater would have a pretty clear advantage in traditional fundraising while Sen. Bill Eigel could come to the financial rescue of Pietzman as he did with now- Sens. Mike Moon and Rick Brattin last cycle. Spencer did contribute $100,000 to his campaign. Now the documentation shows it as a contribution and not a loan, so you assume he intends to spend the money.
The most likely area that could be added to the district might be Wentzville which would be good territory in Spencer’s old House district.
The bottom line: It’s all gonna come down to what the district looks like once the judges are done. Then, if it looks similar to the old 10th, Rep. Travis Fitzwater would have the advantage until Sen. Bill Eigel weighs in with financial resources.
Rep. Travis Fitzwater
Contributions this period: $9,850
Contributions this cycle: $15,150
Cash on hand: $59,163
Kingdom Leadership PAC
Contributions this period: $500
Contributions this cycle: $1,500
Cash on hand: $3,041
Rep. Randy Pietzman
Contributions this period: $250
Contributions this cycle: $81,991
Cash on hand: $2,082
Rep. Bryan Spencer
Contributions this period: $6,440
Contributions this cycle: $126,171
Cash on hand: $142,189
#5 SD 12 Sen. Hegeman is term-limited in 2022.
PRIMARY: TOO SOON TO CALL – GENERAL: SAFE REPUBLICAN
The race to replace Sen. Dan Hegeman is really at a standstill until the maps are drawn. Currently, Rep. J. Eggleston is the only announced candidate who is out raising money and meeting voters and capped off his early efforts with a $100,000 loan to his campaign.
If the district stays roughly the same, Eggleston is likely to be joined by Rep. Allan Andrews, and it wouldn’t surprise anyone to see former Rep. Casey Guernsey jump into the race he eyed eight years ago.
However, there are plenty of folks who are eager to see Rep. Brenda Shields drawn into the district, and if she is in the 12th after the dust settles, she would be a top contender along with Rep. Rusty Black if he is ultimately in the new district.
The bottom line: I think we are going to have to wait to see what the judges come up with before doing much serious handicapping on the race. If the lines are the same keep an eye on former Rep. Casey Guernsey. And as always in northwest Missouri, whoever Axiom signs will become the favorite.
Rep. J Eggleston
Contributions this period: $112,661
Contributions this cycle: $112,661
Cash on hand: $164,160
Contributions this period: $750
Contributions this cycle: $750
Cash on hand: $750
Rep. Allen Andrews
Contributions this period: $0.35
Contributions this cycle: $41,257.51
Cash on hand: $13,917
#6 SD 20 Sen. Burlison is running for Congress.
PRIMARY: LEAN TRENT – GENERAL: SAFE REPUBLICAN
If there is something more that can be done to consolidate support in a state Senate primary than Rep. Curtis Trent has already, I really don’t know what it is. I think the fact he now seems to have one is more evidence of the consultant recruitment effect than anything else.
When the dominos began to fall after Senator Roy Blunt announced his retirement, it took a few months for Congressman Billy Long to launch his bid, then see Sen. Eric Burlison launch his, and allow Trent to begin his campaign for higher office. Since he was able to run openly, he was able to clear the field of any of his fellow legislators and then begin raising money in earnest.
Last week, Springfield businessman Brian Gelner jumped into the race and has a pedigree that could put together some money, but he has told people that he isn’t interested in self-funding the race. He will be able to enjoy the luxury of not having a record but will also have to work to put together an organization then Trent already has.
The bottom line: This race starts out with Rep. Curtis Trent having the early advantage until folks see what kind of campaign that Brian Gelner can put together.
Rep. Curtis Trent
Contributions this period: $23,073
Contributions this cycle: $23,073
Cash on hand: $147,826
Contributions this period: $4,902
Contributions this cycle: $7,902
Cash on hand: $8,440
#7 SD 24 Sen. Schupp is term-limited in 2022.
PRIMARY: SAFE MCCREERY – GENERAL: LIKELY DEMOCRAT
The 24th has come a long way since electing then-moderate Republican John Lamping in 2010. First of all, redistricting took it farther north in 2014 when Sen. Jill Schupp won it, making it more Democratic. Then the trend of the district went farther Democratic at a time when the rest of the state was trending the other way. It’s possible that the 24th could be drawn more Republican and that might recruit another businessman with no record to make a run, but this part of St. Louis County is not friendly to Republicans.
Rep. Tracy McCreery has aligned nearly every prominent Democratic endorsement in the 24th. Further, firefighters who have a significant history of backing winners in the 24th are behind her along with the Teamsters. She has done everything possible to hand the Democrats one of the easiest Democratic holds in a blueish district that could be done.
The bottom line: Barring something very unexpected, Rep. Tracy McCreery will be the next senator from St. Louis County. However, these are Missouri Democrats we are discussing, so it would surprise literally no one who has observed Missouri Democrats since Jay Nixon last ran for office to see a primary challenger recruited who would drain her bank account who might be used to elect more Democrats to the Senate in 2024.
Rep. Tracy McCreery
Contributions this period: $136,030
Contributions this cycle: $179,060
Cash on hand: $342,862
Serve Missouri PAC
Contributions this period: $19,000
Contributions this cycle: $19,000
Cash on hand: $20,296
#8 SD 30 Sen. Hough is seeking re-election.
PRIMARY: SAFE HOUGH – GENERAL: LIKELY REPUBLICAN
Sen. Lincoln Hough has been on a fundraising tear around the state and has the wind at his back in the toughest district currently held by a Republican senator. His ability to fundraise for his re-election has only been bested by his ability to bring home funds to Springfield from his role as the most influential member in either chamber or either party dealing with the state budget. Those two come together in analyzing his election as his fundraising will make him tough to primary, and his ability to deliver for Springfield make him very tough to beat in a general.
The bottom line: In the current world of the Missouri Senate Republican Caucus, anything is possible so a primary is possible. However, even if he liquidated his war chest in a primary, 2022 looks like the kind of year that Sen. Lincoln Hough would still be re-elected, and it’s always possible that redistricting changes his district, and the only way to really change his district is to add more Republicans.
Sen. Lincoln Hough
Contributions this period: $32,450
Contributions this cycle: $214,188
Cash on hand: $217,201
Contributions this period: $109,600
Contributions this cycle: $163,650
Cash on hand: $163,650
#9 SD 8 Sen. Cierpiot is seeking re-election.
PRIMARY: SAFE CIERPIOT – GENERAL: LIKELY REPUBLICAN
Sen. Mike Cierpiot is seeking his final term in the Senate — which would put, between Mike and his wife Connie, around 25 years of being elected in the Lee’s Summit area. Because of the Democratic trend of the area his district could be pushed more into Kansas City proper and give a Democrat a real shot at the seat. That Democrat seems likely to be Rep. Keri Ingle, but it seems like an easy decision to wait four years for an open seat and hope the Lee’s Summit area keeps sliding more Democratic.
The bottom line: 2022 looks like a real, real bad year for Democrats. Rep. Keri Ingle might be the next senator in waiting, but for the next four years, it looks like Sen. Mike Cierpiot will be representing the 8th.
Sen. Mike Cierpiot
Contributions this period: $39,404
Contributions this cycle: $178,735
Cash on hand: $61,691
Jackson County LeadershipPAC
Contributions this period: $21,000
Contributions this cycle: $23,250
Cash on hand: $22,777
#10 SD 16 Sen. Brown is seeking re-election.
PRIMARY: LIKELY BROWN – GENERAL: SAFE REPUBLICAN
This is a race that should be as boring as any senate re-election, but could become a costly primary, and is indicative of the toxic nature of the Republican caucus. Sen. Brown will win re-election however, he has a pretty radical small group of detractors from the lake area that have recruited him a primary challenger named Scott Riedel.
There was a PAC formed to raise money to fund a primary challenger and a pretty vitriolic email was sent out by former Sen. Jane Cunningham in an attempt to raise money for it, and thus far it’s been pretty anemic. The only primary challenger of any heft to put out feelers is former Rep. Doc Frederich of Rolla. However, he ran in the 2018 primary and lost to Brown.
The bottom line: Sen. Justin Brown will be re-elected just as his father was. Brown is, most of the time, a member of the Caleb Caucus and is someone who is loved by the members of that caucus. If a serious primary challenge is pitted against him by the Eigel Caucus, then the lobbying corps, Brown’s colleagues, and his beloved family’s endless list of friends will come to his aid. In the end, a primary challenge against Brown has little hope and the resources spent on it could cost the Eigel Caucus resources that might decide races in Jefferson County or Franklin County, and would likely move Brown toward being a pretty radical supporter of Caleb Caucus.
Sen. Justin Brown
Contributions this period: $36,495
Contributions this cycle: $566,935
Cash on hand: $65,165
Contributions this period: $36,843
Contributions this cycle: $43,843
Cash on hand: $35,250
Scott Faughn is the publisher of The Missouri Times, owner of the Clayton Times in Clayton; SEMO Times in Poplar Bluff; and host of the only statewide political television show, This Week in Missouri Politics.