By Susan Redden
Globe Staff Writer
JOPLIN, Mo. —
Republican political candidates naturally gravitate to Southwest Missouri, and a number of GOP contenders were “at home,” either literally or figuratively, in Carthage on Saturday to march in the annual Maple Leaf Festival parade.
The parade normally attracts huge crowds, and since the region is a Republican stronghold, the event is popular among GOP politicians, particularly in election years.
Those making the trek Saturday included 7th District U.S. Rep. Billy Long and Lt. Gov. Peter Kinder, both incumbents running for re-election, and GOP candidates Shane Schoeller, running for secretary of state, and Ed Martin, running for attorney general. Dave Spence, GOP candidate for governor, was represented by his wife and a big campaign bus. There also was lots of representation for the campaign of U.S. Senate candidate Todd Akin, who marched in the parade a year ago.
Not every politician there was a Republican, however. Attorney General Chris Koster, the Democratic incumbent, also joined in. He told Southwest Missouri Democrats about it in a speech Saturday night, noting the importance of campaigning in Republican parts of the state. That was a theme among several of the speakers at the second-year Jackson Days West gathering that attracted about 120 Democratic supporters to the IBEW Hall in Joplin.
State Rep. Jason Kander reminded Democrats that he had been a speaker at the inaugural gathering a year ago. Kander, a state representative from Kansas City, is the Democratic candidate for secretary of state.
Lifelong Southwest Missouri resident Jim Evans, Democratic candidate for Congress from Missouri’s 7th District, said he grew up in a family of Republicans. He said he believes area sentiment is shifting away from the party “because too many Republicans pay lip service to conservative principles and then work for the special interests.”
He told the Democrats at the gathering that they should persuade their Republican friends to support him. “Tell them I’m an Eisenhower Republican,” he said. “In today’s world, that’s a Democrat.”
Gov. Jay Nixon was represented by Craig Hosmer, of Springfield, a former state representative and Nixon’s campaign treasurer. He agreed that Southwest Missouri can be “tough territory for Democrats,” but he and other speakers also noted Nixon’s frequent trips to Joplin after the May 22, 2011, tornado.
U.S. Sen. Claire McCaskill made a campaign swing through Southwest Missouri a week ago and will be in Lawrence County at 10 a.m. Tuesday to meet with volunteers at Democratic campaign headquarters in Mount Vernon. Her re-election campaign was represented at the Joplin event by her sister, Ann McCaskill Moroh.
A number of Republican politicians from other states will be coming to Missouri this week to bolster the campaigns of GOP candidates.
Gov. Scott Walker of Wisconsin will appear today on behalf of Republican gubernatorial candidate Dave Spence.
The two will be featured at a midday lunch in Kansas City, then later at a rally in Jefferson City. The events were announced in an email from Bill Randles, who ran against Spence in the primary and now is helping the campaign of his former rival.
Walker earlier this year held off a recall challenge in Wisconsin after stripping some public sector unions of collective bargaining rights over pensions and health care.
Shane Schoeller, the Republican candidate for secretary of state, will hold rallies this week featuring other secretaries of state who are pushing for or have been successful in passing new voter identification laws in their states.
Calls for a new voter ID law in Missouri have been a focus of Schoeller’s campaign. The joint appearances will feature Kansas Secretary of State Kris Kobach, Iowa Secretary of State Matt Schultz and Mississippi Secretary of State Delbert Hosemann.
Susan Redden is a staff writer for the Globe. She can be reached at email@example.com or 417-623-3480, ext. 7258. Follow her on Twitter @Susan_Redden.