Blunt, 71, has represented the Show-Me State in the U.S. Senate since 2010. He is the former Missouri secretary of state and represented the 7th congressional district for 14 years.
Despite much speculation, former Gov. Jay Nixon and former U.S. Senator Claire McCaskill have both declined to enter the Democratic primary. Congresswoman Ann Wagner said she will run for re-election to the U.S. House, and Lt. Gov. Mike Kehoe is running for governor in 2024.
Still, there’s a growing contingent of Republicans and Democrats vying for the seat. Here’s a look at who has entered the race.
The Franklin County Republican officially announced his candidacy for the race on Nov. 16, listing off legislative accomplishments like balancing a budget, advancing pro-life policies, and supporting the Second Amendment in a campaign ad.
“We’re going to take some good, old-fashioned Show-Me State values to Washington and show them how it’s done,” Senate President Pro Tem Dave Schatz said. “I’m not the fanciest guy in the race. I’m definitely not the slickest. But if you’re looking for a U.S. senator who will get the job done, then I’m your guy.”
An avid fisher and hunter, Schatz has risen in the Capitol from a state representative to president pro tem of the Missouri Senate where he’s carved out a reputation for being focused on infrastructure. This year, Schatz championed legislation increasing Missouri’s gas tax by 2.5 cents annually — bumping it up to 29.5 cents from 17 cents by 2025. The additional funds are earmarked for fixing Missouri’s roads and bridges.
Congressman Billy Long made his entrance into the race on Aug. 3 with an appearance on Fox News. Long has represented the 7th congressional district, formerly held by U.S. Senator Roy Blunt, since 2011.
“We need to get the Senate back. You aren’t going to do anything until you get the Senate back, and I’m the guy who can win that Senate seat in Missouri,” Long said. “As Republicans, we must fight hard to regain control of the Senate. The Democrats are working at warp-speed to dismantle everything President Trump and I fought for over the last four years.”
Long has tapped Jamestown Associates which did media for former President Donald Trump’s campaign. Kellyanne Conway, the former White House counselor who served as Trump’s 2016 campaign manager, has also joined Long’s team. Long reportedly entered the race after meeting with Trump in New York.
The first congressional official to jump into the race, Congresswoman Vicky Hartzler made her campaign announcement in June from a shooting range and gun store in Lee’s Summit. Hartzler has represented the large 4th congressional district since 2011.
“As Missourians, we embody the values that made this country great. We embrace hard work, love our country, stand by our families, help our neighbors, hunt on weekends, go to church on Sundays, and just want the government to leave us alone,” Hartzler said.
Hartzler said she voted in favor of and supported the former president’s policies more than 95 percent of the time.
Attorney Mark McCloskey, who gained notoriety last year for pointing guns at protestors who marched past their St. Louis home, announced his candidacy in May.
“God came knocking on my door last summer disguised as an angry mob, and it really did wake me up. And as I campaigned for [former President Donald Trump] last fall, and as we’ve continued to do rallies and events supporting our constitutional rights, what I’ve learned is that people out there in our country [are] just sick and tired of cancel culture and the poison of critical race theory and the big lie of systemic racism — all backed up by the threat of mob violence,” McCloskey said then.
Attorney General Eric Schmitt made his entrance into the race on March 24. Schmitt has deftly risen through the ranks of Missouri politics, from alderman to state senator to state treasurer. After Josh Hawley was elected to the U.S. Senate, Schmitt was appointed to replace him as Missouri’s attorney general and handily defeated his Democratic opponent last year to remain in office.
“I am fighting every day to protect and defend our constitution in my service to Missourians as their attorney general. I fought alongside President Trump in defending election integrity, championing pro-growth economic policy, protecting our energy independence, and standing up to radical prosecutors who have allowed violent crime to rule our cities instead of upholding the rule of law,” Schmitt said. “As attorney general, I’ve already sued the Biden administration, and I’m going to keep suing Joe Biden to protect all Missourians when necessary.”
Embattled former Gov. Eric Greitens launched his political comeback on March 22, announcing on Fox News his candidacy for the U.S. Senate seat. Greitens served as Missouri’s chief executive until he stepped down in 2018 amid multiple investigations into sexual misconduct and campaign finance allegations. He has been hosting a television show on the “Real America’s Voice” network.
“The people of Missouri need a fighter in the U.S. Senate,” Greitens said. “They need somebody who is going to go — as I will, as I am committed to do — to defending President Trump’s ‘America First’ policies and also to protecting the people of Missouri from Joe Biden, Nancy Pelosi, and Chuck Schumer’s radical leftist agenda.”
Greitens snagged Kimberly Guilfoyle, who has been romantically linked to Donald Trump Jr., as his national campaign chair — reportedly angering the former president. He has also been endorsed by Rudy Giuliani.
Former state Sen. Scott Sifton announced his candidacy even before U.S. Senator Roy Blunt said he would not seek re-election. Sifton launched his candidacy in February — about a month after the attack on the U.S. Capitol.
“Our country is at a critical point in its history,” Sifton said. “We just saw what happens when our leaders don’t stand up for truth and when they don’t put the good of our country over their own political ambitions. Josh Hawley’s dangerous conspiracy theories and attempts to overturn the election helped lead to a deadly insurrection, and Roy Blunt — the ultimate insider — was once again too weak to speak out.”
Sifton is an attorney who termed out of the state Senate last year, having previously served in the lower chamber. In the statehouse, Sifton was well-regarded on both sides of the aisle for his legal expertise as well as his discipline.
Marine veteran Lucas Kunce launched his campaign in March and has already shown an ability to raise money.
Kunce is an attorney and native of Jefferson City. He spent 13 years in the Marine Corps where he served in Afghanistan, Iraq, and South Asia. Kunce is the director of national security for the nonprofit Economic Liberties Project.
“Every time I came home from Iraq and then Afghanistan, things have changed. The community I love had been hollowed out. Jobs shipped away for Wall Street profits,” Kunce said. “The wealth of our state sucked dry by guys like Josh Hawley and Roy Blunt, and their top donors who get rich stripping our communities for parts. It’s time to Marshall Plan the Midwest, fight to invest right here in the heartland, where we’ve been making things for generations.”
Spencer Toder, who works in real estate and leads a medical device company, launched his campaign in early May. Toder is the CEO of Atrial Innovations which develops devices to alleviate congenital heart defects.
“I never thought I would run for public office. But I’m tired of watching candidates use language that only resonates with people who already agree with them as they leave behind a whole group of people who want most of the exact same things,” Toder said on his website. “Our country is divided. That has never been clearer in our lifetimes. When I talk to people across our state, regardless of party, I hear a lot of the same values. Politicians these days don’t seem to actually hear what we’re saying and most of them aren’t trying to bring us together.”
Activist and entrepreneur Timothy Shepard launched his campaign in early February with an emphasis on grassroots support. He grew up in Kearney and Excelsior Springs, according to his campaign website.
“Our representative democracy isn’t just at risk in America, it’s broken,” Shepard said. “In its current form, our democracy represents the rights of corporations and the super-wealthy before the rights of American people. We have been living in a top-down corporatist system for far too long.”
Air Force Veteran Jewel Kelly is running for U.S. Senate, billing himself as a moderate Democrat. He is focused on mental health care and started the A Fighting Chance Foundation non-profit with his wife.
“I am running for the United States Senate as a Christian, veteran, small business owner, and moderate Democrat because too many Americans are suffering,” Kelly said on his campaign website. “Opportunities available to us will no longer exist if we stay silent. During these last few years in particular, many Americans experienced the four stages of grief to the extreme: shock, anger, depression, and acceptance.”
Dr. Gena Ross, a licensed evangelist missionary, launched her Senate bid after unsuccessfully challenging Congressman Sam Graves in 2020. Ross has lived in Platte City for the past decade, having grown up in Minneapolis.
Her platform is focused on health care, the economy, education, climate change, and social justice, among other things. Her slogan is “paving the way for change.”
This story has been updated. It was originally published in August 2021.
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