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Stouffer's first television ad goes to the dogs

This article first appeared in the St. Louis Beacon, July 25, 2012 - In a primary season chalked full of biting barbs and contentious accusations, one Republican candidate for secretary of state is hoping to gain headway with a secret weapon – his dog.

A television ad from Republican secretary of state hopeful Bill Stouffer, R-Napton, features the two-term senator standing next to a pickup truck with his wife, Sue Ellen Stouffer. Also in the scene is Duke, a bloodhound who’s become synonymous with the lawmaker’s statewide bid.

“He’s very loyal and protects those that he serves,” Sue Ellen Stouffer says in the ad. “He’s always ready to fight for what is right. And he’s always hunting for the truth.”

“Thanks, honey,” Bill Stouffer replies.

“Oh Bill, you know I’m talking about Duke!” Sue Ellen Stouffer quips, before indicating that she was joking and actually talking about her husband.

Stouffer is squaring off against Sen. Scott Rupp, R-Wentzville, and House Speaker Pro Tem Shane Schoeller, R-Willard, in the Republican primary for secretary of state. Schoeller – the fundraising leade of the three candidates – released television ads earlier in the campaign that ran primarily in southwest Missouri.

Not only has Duke followed Stouffer around the campaign trail, but he’s also become quite popular. Stouffer noted in a statement that he's often asked about his wife and dog when he's campaigning.

“It's only after those two questions are asked, do they say hello to me,” Stouffer said.

(Stouffer hails from the same county – Saline County – as Jim the Wonder Dog, a celebrated Marshall, Mo., pooch who apparently correctly predicted sporting events and possessed human-like eyes.)

The ad may also be trying to gain favor with outstate voters, who are typically more conservative and tend to vote in Republican primaries. Rupp and Schoeller are both from Republican strongholds in St. Charles County and Greene County, respectively.

Unlike other Republican primaries this cycle, the three-way contest for secretary of state generally has remained civil. The winner of the contest will almost certainly square off against state Rep. Jason Kander, D-Kansas City.

Kander reserves air time

Meanwhile, Kander is eyeing November by reserving big chunks of television time.

Kander's campaign announced this week in a press release that he had reserved $1 million worth of TV ad time for October and November. The Democratic attorney – who after the last fundraising quarter had more cash on hand than all three candidates combined – also announced he will be reserving radio, newspaper and online ads to supplement the television buy.

Jack Cardetti, a spokesman for Kander, said the move will ensure that the campaign has the time slots to air ads during electoral crunch time.

"Obviously it's going to be very busy on the airwaves in that last month or so," Cardetti said. "Being more focused on November gives us the luxury to plan ahead."

Secretary of State Robin Carnahan, a Democrat, is not running for a third term. The office of secretary of state runs the state’s elections, registers businesses and monitors securities.

Jason is the politics correspondent for St. Louis Public Radio.

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