The Joplin Globe, Joplin, MO

July 29, 2012

Republicans vie for nod in bids for U.S. Senate

By Emily Younker

JOPLIN, Mo. — Eight candidates face off next month in the hopes of securing the Republican slot on the November ballot in the U.S. Senate race.

The winner of the GOP nomination in the Aug. 7 primary will challenge Sen. Claire McCaskill in the fall in her bid for re-election to a six-year term.

• John G. Brunner, 60, of St. Louis, is a retired businessman at a personal-care products manufacturing company, serving as the company’s CEO until 2009.

Brunner said that if elected, his No. 1 issue would be to stabilize the economy and create jobs. He said he would cut spending in the federal budget and encourage lawmakers to give priority to an energy program that decreases the country’s dependence on other countries for oil.

Brunner touts his business expertise and lack of political experience as benefits over his opponents.

“I’m the best fit, both in the Republican primary and the general election, because I’m the only person who has spent 30 years making a budget, cutting spending, sticking to it and competing in the private workplace,” he said.

Brunner has been endorsed by several agriculture groups, including the John Deere Political Action Committee and the Missouri Pork Association, and by state Sen. Ron Richard, of Joplin, and state Rep. Tom Flanigan, of Carthage, according to his website.

According to the Federal Election Commission, Brunner has raised $5.3 million and spent nearly $5.2 million as of June 30, with about 89 percent of that amount coming from the candidate himself. He listed about $183,000 in cash on hand as of that date.

• Todd Akin, 65, of Wildwood, served 12 years as a state representative and has represented Missouri’s 2nd District in the U.S. House of Representatives since 2000.

Akin could not be reached for a telephone interview by deadline, but he supported lessening governmental control in a July 22 letter to the Globe.

“We are losing our freedoms to a government that has overstepped its constitutional boundaries,” he wrote. “Our road ahead should include cutting back the role of government and restoring personal liberty and responsibility.”

According to his website, Akin has been endorsed by the Missouri Right to Life Political Action Committee, former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee, state Rep. Charlie Davis, of Webb City, and state Rep. Bill White, of Joplin.

Akin has raised about $2.2 million and spent about $1.3 million, according to the Federal Election Commission. He listed $1.4 million in cash on hand as of June 30, according to the commission.

• Sarah Steelman, 54, of Rolla, was elected in 1998 and 2002 as a state senator in the 16th District and served as the state treasurer from 2004 until 2008. She declined to run for re-election and instead made an unsuccessful bid for governor in 2008.

Steelman also could not be reached for comment by deadline. In a letter to the Globe published July 22, she advocated cutting federal spending and curbing the national budget.

“Federal government spending is growing faster than the national economy,” she wrote. “Instead, every federally funded organization should have to start each year assuming a budget of zero, and then justify every dollar it wants to spend.”

According to her website, Steelman has been endorsed by 2008 vice presidential candidate and former Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin and several state representatives, including Bill Lant, of Joplin.

Steelman has raised $1.4 million, including a $400,000 loan from herself, spent $1 million and had $561,660 in cash as of June 30, according to the Federal Election Commission.

Others on the ballot but with less name recognition are:

Mark Memoly, 57, of Lee’s Summit, owns an information services company. He ran in Missouri as a write-in candidate for the U.S. Senate in 2010.

Hector Maldonado, age unavailable, of Sullivan, has been a naturalized American citizen from Mexico for 17 years. He ran unsuccessfully for the U.S. Senate in 2010.

Jerry Beck, 73, of La Monte, worked several years as a contractor and is the president of Millennium Manufacturing Co. In 2010, he ran for the Senate under the Constitution Party.

Candidates Mark Patrick Lodes, of St. Louis, and Robert “Bob” Poole, of Macon, did not return Globe requests for information.

Incumbent Sen. Claire McCaskill, of St. Louis, is unopposed for the Democratic nomination. Running unopposed on the Libertarian ticket is Jonathan Dine, of Riverside.