Rep. Vicky Hartzler launches Senate bid, vowing to keep seat in conservative hands

  • Oops!
    Something went wrong.
    Please try again later.
  • Oops!
    Something went wrong.
    Please try again later.
  • Oops!
    Something went wrong.
    Please try again later.
  • Oops!
    Something went wrong.
    Please try again later.
·4 min read
In this article:
  • Oops!
    Something went wrong.
    Please try again later.
  • Oops!
    Something went wrong.
    Please try again later.
  • Oops!
    Something went wrong.
    Please try again later.
  • Oops!
    Something went wrong.
    Please try again later.

Missouri Rep. Vicky Hartzler entered the Republican race for Senate on Thursday, becoming the first member of Congress and only woman in a field of candidates that is expected to continue growing.

Hartzler, 60, who has represented the 4th congressional district since 2011, made a case that she can keep the Senate seat under conservative control as some Republicans fear former Gov. Eric Greitens could lose to a Democrat if he secures the nomination.

During a campaign kickoff at Frontier Justice, a gun store in Lee’s Summit, Hartzler unloaded attacks on President Joe Biden, Democrats and “cancel culture.” And she sought to link herself to former President Donald Trump, telling dozens of supporters that together they would “Make America Great Again.”

“I ask you to join me in this vital mission ... as we lead the fight to protect our freedoms and preserve America’s greatness,” Hartzler said.

In Congress, Hartzler was one of five House Republicans from Missouri who voted against certifying President Joe Biden’s Electoral College victory. She has spoken against LGBTQ rights and called for tough treatment of China.

The six-term congresswoman joins a rambunctious Republican Senate field competing to succeed retiring Sen. Roy Blunt. It includes former Gov. Eric Greitens and St. Louis lawyer Mark McCloskey. Greitens resigned in 2018, facing scandals that included allegations of violent sexual abuse and blackmail. McCloskey is best known for brandishing a firearm at Black Lives Matter protesters.

Hartzler is also up against Attorney General Eric Schmitt, who has also taken a tough line on China and supported a baseless lawsuit seeking to overturn the presidential election. They are both vying for the support of conservatives either put off by McCloskey or fearful that Greitens could lose the seat to a Democrat.

But the field remains far from set, with the filing deadline more than eight months away. Reps. Ann Wagner, Jason Smith and Billy Long all remain possible contenders.

Blunt said he is waiting to see how the race develops when asked about Hartzler’s candidacy this week.

“She is a friend, as all the House members are, and we’ve had a great delegation working together for all the time she’s been here,” Blunt said.

On the Democratic side, former state Sen. Scott Sifton and former Marine Lucas Kunce are running and raised six figures during the first quarter of 2021. Air Force veteran Jewell Kelly, Kansas City activist Tim Shepard and realtor Spencer Toder are also running. Kansas City Mayor Quinton Lucas is weighing a bid and former Gov. Jay Nixon’s name has been floated.

Hartzler didn’t criticize any other candidate directly, but said she would ensure the Senate seat remains in conservative hands.

Missouri GOP Rep. Vicky Hartzler launched her campaign to run for Roy Blunt’s U.S. Senate seat on Thursday, June 10, 2021, at Frontier Justice in Lee’s Summit. Hartzler currently represents Missouri’s 4th Congressional district.
Missouri GOP Rep. Vicky Hartzler launched her campaign to run for Roy Blunt’s U.S. Senate seat on Thursday, June 10, 2021, at Frontier Justice in Lee’s Summit. Hartzler currently represents Missouri’s 4th Congressional district.

“I think a lot of people around our state are coalescing around me because I’m not just rhetoric, I have results. I’ve been there and have gotten things done,” Hartzler told reporters.

Hartzler enters the race with about $678,000 cash on hand in her House campaign account, according to filings in March. She is allowed to transfer the money to her Senate campaign.

She entered Congress by beating 17-term Democratic incumbent Ike Skelton by 5 points in 2010 as part of a national Tea Party wave. She is the first Republican to hold the 4th congressional seat since the 1950s.

The district, which stretches from the Kansas City metro to central Missouri, became a Republican stronghold after redistricting in 2012. Hartzler has won each of her re-election contests by double digits, including last year’s 38-point victory over Democrat Lindsey Simmons.

Despite comparing the Jan. 6 Capitol attack to a coup attempt, Hartzler was one of five House Republicans from Missouri who voted to block President Joe Biden’s electoral votes from Pennsylvania and Arizona hours after the riot.

Hartzler’s House tenure has been marked by her staunchly conservative stances on social issues. She championed an effort to restrict transgender soldiers from serving in the military and has spoken against the Equality Act, which would establish national anti-discrimination protections for sexual orientation and gender identity.

Hartzler has established a reputation as a hawk on China, sponsoring legislation last year to lessen the U.S. military’s reliance on China for pharmaceutical goods and offering a bill this year to require Biden’s administration to take action to combat forced sterilizations and other repressive treatment against Uyghur Muslims in China.

A member of the House Armed Services Committee, Hartzler has been a strong proponent for military spending and has helped steer resources to Whiteman Air Force Base in Johnson County during her tenure. She broke with Trump last year and supported the override of his veto of the National Defense Authorization Act to ensure funding for the B-21 program at Whiteman among other Missouri projects.

Our goal is to create a safe and engaging place for users to connect over interests and passions. In order to improve our community experience, we are temporarily suspending article commenting