Despite being rural and largely conservative, state Senate District 18 was held by Democrats until 2010, when Republican Brian Munzlinger unseated then-incumbent Wes Shoemyer.
Four contenders are hoping to keep the seat in Republican hands now that Munzlinger is vacating the office due to term limits. They all support gun owners’ rights, cutting taxes and opposing abortion rights.
They primarily differ on who would do a better job of representing most of northeastern Missouri in the state Senate.
Two of the four contenders are term-limited members of the Missouri House: Craig Redmon, 59, of Canton and Lindell Shumake, 68, of Hannibal. At a forum in Moberly on Monday attended by all four candidates, Redmon touted his mix of legislative and business experience, saying it makes him the best choice.
“You have to have those people contacts, you have to know who to call if you have a problem with your roads or you have a problem with a sewer system of a community, and I know that because I’ve had to do that for the last eight years,” Redmon said. “I want my kids to have the opportunity, when they grow up, to work and stay here in northeast Missouri, and I want your kids to have that same opportunity.”
He formerly owned and operated a convenience store in Monticello.
Cindy O’Laughlin, 61, of Shelbina, co-owns a trucking-and-ready-mix-concrete company with her husband, and is a former school-board member. She said her business background gives her the accountability needed to represent the district.
“When you spend 28 billion dollars, and you distribute that among state agencies, but you do not give them targeted goals that they have to reach – which we do not do that right now – then they’re the ones that determine what you need,” she said. “I’m out there working – we employ almost 50 people, and we’ve been in business for nearly 70 years – we have to earn our money first, and then we spend it very carefully, so I think I can bring that perspective to the Senate.”
Shumake cites a different type of experience – his part-time work as a hospital chaplain and prison missionary.
“I’ve always felt that my service as state representative was an extension of the ministry that I have, and I still feel that way,” he said. “I hope to not only just be a leader that knows about things that pertain to government and finance and things like this, but one that can also be an example personally for my constituents.”
Shumake also owns and operates two businesses in Hannibal – one that provides payroll-tax services for other small businesses, and a metal recycling business.
Nate Walker, 66, of Kirksville, was elected to the Missouri House in 1980 and 1982, and then made an unsuccessful bid for lieutenant governor in 1984. His current run as a state representative began in 2013. He said his record in the House shows that he has the people’s best interests in mind.
“Northeast Missouri needs a strong voice, and I can be that voice of the people — not special interests, but the people,” Walker said. “I’m pro-life, I’m pro-Second Amendment, I oppose the encroachment of eminent domain on [the] rights of our farmers and our landowners, and I’ve worked hard to promote public education, not only from K-through-12, but through higher education.”
Redmon has been endorsed by the incumbent Munzlinger. But O’Laughlin currently has the financial edge – as of July 15, she had about $185,000 in campaign funds. Much of it is self-funding, as she loaned herself $100,000 at the start of her campaign last year.
Redmon had nearly $57,000; Shumake $21,000, and Walker $19,000.
Third-party radio ads have been airing in northeastern Missouri, and a website has gone online, that label O’Laughlin as a “political insider,” based on her company’s hiring of a lobbyist last year. The ads and website allege that the number of state contracts her company has received nearly doubled since hiring a lobbyist.
She disagrees, and on Monday suggested that small business owners sometimes need lobbyists to fight for them.
“The reason you have as many lobbyists as you do down there [in Jefferson City] is because a lot of the businesses feel like they have to have someone there to protect their business from what could be an unintended consequence of a law that is passed,” O’Laughlin said.
The winner of the Aug. 7 primary will face Crystal Stephens of Hannibal in November. She’s running unopposed in the Democratic primary.
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