Missourians will elect a new U.S. senator next year to succeed Republican Sen. Roy Blunt, who announced in March he was not running for reelection after serving in the role since 2011.
The general election for the Senate race, between the Democratic and Republican nominees, will top the ballot in November. The primary elections, in which a range of candidates from both parties will seek the nominations, will take place Aug. 2, 2022. Candidates have until March 29, 2022 to file for the race.
The winner of the general election will join Missouri's Republican Sen. Josh Hawley in the 100-person higher chamber in Washington, D.C., where they will serve a six-year term. Here's who's running to be Missouri's next U.S. senator.
Recent mainstays of Missouri's Democratic Party have almost entirely bowed out of the U.S. Senate conversation — leaving the nomination open for the taking for a range of outsiders and new faces.
Air Force veteran Jewel Kelly has put mental health reform first and foremost in his campaign.
The founder of A Fighting Chance Foundation, a mental health and suicide awareness nonprofit, Kelly spoke to a Greene County Democrats gathering in September on the loss of his daughter to suicide in an emotional speech about policymaking that prioritized empathy.
Lucas Kunce, a Jefferson City native, Marine veteran and political outsider, led the Democratic field in fundraising as of the end of June.
Kunce is sporting an economically populist platform, running on breaking up corporate monopolies and enacting a federal infrastructure and jobs plan for the state, coined a "Marshall Plan for the Midwest." He's picked up spurts of national virality from digital campaign ads and made several appearances on MSNBC and Bloomberg following the U.S. withdrawal of Afghanistan.
A Kansas City community college associate professor and former staffer for U.S. Sen. Claire McCaskill, Gena Ross is currently the only woman seeking the Democratic nomination.
Ross is a Minneapolis native, prioritizing "democracy, voting rights and health care" as the center of her platform and touting herself as "unbought, unbossed and unbiased." In the early months of the pandemic, Ross was hospitalized with COVID-19, but won the Democratic nomination for the northern 6th District House race. She lost against Rep. Sam Graves, who has held the seat for 20 years.
Activism and social justice are the central plank of Tim Shepard's campaign. The LGBTQ+ rights activist and entrepreneur, who grew up north of Kansas City, has a wide-ranging progressive platform touching on social equity, voting rights, sustainable agriculture and economic reform.
In a speech to Greene County Democrats in September, Shepard focused on his personal background, emphasizing his highs and lows as he came to terms with his identity and passions.
Close followers of state politics may know former State Sen. Scott Sifton. The St. Louis lawmaker served two years in the House and two terms in the Senate before terming out in 2021.
Sifton is leveraging his past successes over Republican candidates in a case for his electability, pointing to his 2012 victory over a GOP incumbent and winning re-election during the "Trump wave." His time in the statehouse paid off in endorsements, earning them from a number of state Democrats past and present.
Spencer Toder, a St. Louis native and small business owner, is focused on rebuilding political trust.
He told Greene County Democrats in September that he spends 70 percent of his time speaking with Democrats and 30 percent with Republicans, attempting to move past political divides and focus on areas of mutual importance. Toder slammed Gov. Mike Parson in his speech, saying he had lost his grandmother to COVID-19 while Parson was doing "photo ops" for vaccine rollouts.
Even with months to go until the primary elections, the Republican field for U.S. Senate is jam-packed with big names, from statewide officials to members of Missouri's congressional delegation.
Former Gov. Eric Greitens is attempting a re-entry into Missouri politics, running for the nomination after resigning from the governorship in 2018 amid scandal and facing impeachment from his own party.
Explicitly considered an outcast from Missouri Republicans, Greitens has spent time on the campaign trail carving out a far-right national profile — speaking alongside close Trump ally Rudy Giuliani and visiting Arizona's ballot audit, as he backs election security theories that experts say have little to no basis in reality.
Rep. Vicky Hartzler, who represents parts of mid-Missouri and west Missouri in the conservative 4th District, has also jumped into the race. Hartzler, emphasizing her voting record and support of former President Donald Trump, has been critical of the Biden administration and the Chinese government.
Hartzler's not the only member of Missouri's House delegation campaigning — she's joined by Rep. Billy Long, who serves the southwest 7th District in the U.S. House. Long has taken his Trump-centric platform and folksy style on the campaign trail with the "Billy Bus," emblazoned with a photo of his head.
In his kickoff in Springfield last month, Long made it clear he was prioritizing name recognition over dollars, and is also angling for the coveted endorsement from the former president, who remains the largest presence in Republican politics. The auctioneer frequently cites his early support for Trump in the 2016 primary race.
Mark McCloskey, a St. Louis attorney, is also part of the Republican field. McCloskey made national headlines when he and his wife pointed guns at social justice protesters passing their home last year. He pleaded guilty in June to misdemeanor fourth-degree assault, was fined $750 and gave up his and his wife's weapons; he said he would "do it again."
The lawyer is running on a populist, far-right platform, frequently citing critical race theory, cancel culture, and election integrity.
Serving as President Pro Tempore of the Missouri Senate since 2019, Dave Schatz entered the primary field in November after months of mulling a bid.
Representing Franklin and west St. Louis counties in the higher chamber, Schatz is pitching himself to voters as a "real guy with a record of results," putting his experience in the statehouse at the forefront of his campaign. He served two terms in the House before getting elected to the Senate in 2015. In his role as president pro tempore, he presides over the Senate when Lt. Gov. Mike Kehoe is not present, organizes committees and sends bills to those committees.
Schatz pushed hard for an increase of Missouri's gas tax to fund state infrastructure, which passed this year, and has recently been among the targets of frustration by other hardline conservative senators.
Missouri Attorney General Eric Schmitt led the field in fundraising at the end of June, when the most recent campaign finance data was available. Schmitt, who previously served as a state senator and treasurer, was appointed AG to replace Hawley in 2019 and won re-election last year.
Schmitt's stint as attorney general and candidacy have been defined by his lawsuits against both local authorities within the state and the federal government, seeking the forefront of conservative opposition against the Biden administration. The St. Louis native has spearheaded efforts to block voter-approved Medicaid expansion in Missouri, sued St. Louis and Kansas City officials who re-instated mask mandates in the summer, filed a class-action suit against school districts who did the same, and has fought with the U.S. Department of Justice on a new Missouri law that nullifies some federal gun statutes.
This article originally appeared on Springfield News-Leader: Missouri US Senate race: Who's running for 2022 election nominations?