The Joplin Globe, Joplin, MO

Local News

July 2, 2012

Susan Redden: Region attracts U.S. Senate incumbent, challengers

JOPLIN, Mo. — The three principal Republican candidates for a U.S. Senate seat from Missouri have made frequent stops in the region in recent weeks, most recently St. Louis businessman John Brunner, who met with a group of area residents a week ago.

U.S. Sen. Claire McCaskill, the Democratic incumbent the three are vying to challenge, will make two area stops today.

McCaskill will meet with supporters at 5:30 p.m. in Nevada, then at 7:20 p.m. in Joplin.

The Nevada stop will be at the White Grill, 200 N. Commercial St. McCaskill’s appearance in Joplin will mark the opening of Joplin’s coordinated campaign office, 509 S. Wall Ave., Suite A.

McCaskill will address volunteers and supporters, and talk about efforts “to fight for Missouri’s middle-class families,” according to a campaign release. She also will discuss what she says is “a clear choice” between her campaign and those of her Republican opponents.

In Joplin a week ago, Brunner was drawing contrasts between himself and his opponents in the August primary. He didn’t name opponents Todd Akin, currently a U.S. congressman, and Sarah Steelman, a former state treasurer, except to describe them as career politicians.

Brunner toured Tri-State Motor Transit and met with officials of the trucking company before addressing a gathering of about 30 people at Granny Shaffer’s Restaurant.

He emphasized his business background and his role as a political outsider, saying “real world” experience is needed in Washington.

Brunner said he would favor the temporary suspension of some regulations, especially those on the environmental front, to help jump-start the economy. His campaign stop came before the U.S. Supreme Court on Thursday upheld most of federal health care reform law, but he said imposing those changes would hit the economy “like a tornado.”

“Businesses would be hiring and expanding, but they can’t stand any more regulatory hits,” he said.

Brunner said the regulatory environment hurts small businesses and small farms, to the benefit of their larger counterparts, adding, “They’re the ones who can afford the lawyers.”

He also touted his endorsements by organizations, including some linked to agriculture like the Missouri Pork Association and the Missouri Soybean Association PAC.

“Agriculture is business, and they appreciate my business background,” he said. “It will make me a better advocate.

To questions, Brunner said he is a defender of the Second Amendment and a proponent of immigration “by those who enter the country legally.” Others, he said, “need to get to the back of the line.”

Brunner released the results of a poll that showed him with a significant lead over Akin and Steelman.

Don and Carolyn Hinze picked up a Brunner sign to put in their yard. Don Hinze said the candidate, if he made it to Washington, “would stand up for himself. I’ve been disappointed with others that have folded once they got there.”

Brunner, who is the third generation of his family to run Vi-Jon, a personal care products manufacturer, has spent more than $2 million in personal funds on his campaign and has advertised extensively in TV commercials that have run in the region. Early commercials attacked McCaskill, linking her with President Barack Obama. More recently, his commercials have zeroed in on the records of Akin, in Congress, and Steelman, when she was in the Missouri Senate.

Susan Redden is a staff writer for the Globe. She can be reached at sredden@joplinglobe.com or 417-623-3480, ext. 7258.

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